Strasbourg: The conditions that would allow the EU to conclude a trade agreement with the Mercosur group of South American countries have not been met, European Commission Executive Vice President Maros Sefcovic said on Wednesday, although talks continue.
The planned free trade agreement has come under political scrutiny in recent weeks, amid protests by farmers who say they are being undercut by cheap imports from countries that do not uphold the EU’s strict environmental standards.
“The Commission assessment is that the conditions for the conclusion of the Mercosur agreement are not met,” Sefcovic told the European Parliament on Wednesday.
The European Union and the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay have been in talks for years over the accord, with the EU pushing in recent negotiations for stronger assurances on climate change and deforestation.
France has repeatedly expressed reservations about the EU-Mercosur deal and President Emmanuel Macron last week told Brussels it would be impossible to conclude negotiations under the current conditions.
With farmers staging massive protests in France and polls pointing to gains by the far right in European Parliament elections in June, Macron is under pressure to assuage farmers who are angry over rising costs and cheap food imports.
EU governments and the European Parliament need to approve any trade deal the Commission has reached.