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Minister: Mercosur–EU deal not a threat to environment

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Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina at a seminar in Lisbon argued for the approval of the Mercosur–European Union free-trade agreement. The deal, she said, does not represent a threat to environmental protection.

“It must be said that the agreement does not represent any threat to the environment, human health, or social rights. On the contrary, it reinforces multilateral commitments and combines the best practices in the field,” she declared.

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Even though the production of grains went up 425% since the 70s, Tereza Cristina went on to point out, the planted area increased no more than 43 percent—just 30 percent of its territory for agriculture, maintaining over 60 percent of its native vegetation.

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“It is estimated that approximately 25 percent of the preserved area is located in private properties—something unparalleled in other countries, as this is a territory whose proprietor is not given money to preserve; it is just a legal obligation,” she added.

The implementation of the Mercosur–EU Agreement was also advocated by Portugal’s Agriculture Minister Maria do Céu Antunes, who also took part in the event. Approved in June last year, the treaty must be ratified by a majority in the European Parliament, and then by the parliaments in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay.

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“We will continue to work to have this agreement put to practice,” said Maria do Céu while participating in the seminar Brazil–Portugal: Business opportunities in the Agricultural and Food Sector.

In addition to improving business among member nations, she said, with more predictability and transparency in its rules, the deal will make room for sustainable development.

“It will also allow a commitment to be made with all parties with sustainable development goals, the protection of the environment and biodiversity, and respect for labor and social rights. That’s very important for us,” the Portuguese minister said.

The European Union is Mercosur’s second biggest trade partner, following China. However, the ratification of the agreement has met resistance among members of the European Parliament, who criticize the work of the government regarding its environmental policy.

Last week, parliamentarians voted 356–295 (56 abstentions) for a resolution requesting changes in the environmental agenda of Mercosur countries, so that the pact can be ratified.

“The agreement includes a binding agreement on the sustainable development that should be applied, implemented, and thoroughly assessed, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate and the respective execution norms,” the resolution reads.

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