The trade agreement between the EU and the South American Mercosur countries is voted down. A motion by the Dutch Party for the Animals passed last week by the Lower House, forces the government to withdraw its support for the agreement. After strong protests against the CETA and TTIP trade agreements, a majority of the Lower House has now for the first time turned its back on a large free trade agreement. “A historic breakthrough”, according to party leader Esther Ouwehand, “and a huge win for the Amazon and sustainable regional agriculture – and thus for climate, nature, animal welfare, human rights as well as European farmers.”
The controversial trade agreement – the biggest in the history of the EU – was entered into last summer by the EU and the Mercosur countries Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela, despite strong protests from European farmers and environmental organizations. It will not come into force until the heads of government unanimously agree with it this year at a European top. The Dutch Lower House now obliges Prime Minister Rutte to block the deal during this top. “This while our government firmly supported the deal”, according to Ouwehand. “The House is now blowing the whistle on the Prime Minister.”
The Mercosur Deal would stimulate the import of meat and cattle to feed from South America to the EU leading to further deforestation of the Amazon and the Cerrado nature reserve as well as extra unfair competition for European farmers. South America has lower animal welfare and environmental standards and allows the use of pesticides that are no longer permitted in Europe. The current livestock industry in Brazil already is responsible for eighty percent of deforestation and besides the rain forest, human rights are sacrificed as well for the production of cheap beef and cattle feed. For these and other reasons, the Dutch Party for the Animals together with its sister parties has been leading the resistance against ‘Mercosur’ at all levels for years. Last year, the party protested in front of the Brazilian consulate in Porto together with its sister parties and people from 28 countries.
Meanwhile, the coronacrisis has also shown us that the international trade system must be drastically changed. Ouwehand: “The neoliberal trade system is broken. It is beneficial for large multinationals but has a negative impact on citizens, farmers, and nature. It is great that awareness is finally hitting home. But you cannot pursue convincing climate and agricultural policies while at the same time entering into trade agreements that have disastrous effects on climate and our agriculture. We truly are at a turning point in history when it comes to largely free trade deals. Even the international press is talking about a true ‘paradigm shift’.