Brussels – In an open letter published today, over 340 civil society organisations are demanding that the European Union immediately halt trade negotiations with the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) on the grounds of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions in Brazil. The letter is addressed to the presidents of the EU’s three main institutions ahead of a meeting next week in Brussels, where EU and Mercosur foreign ministers aim to complete the negotiations.

Since Jair Bolsonaro became Brazil’s president on 1 January 2019, his government has dismantled environmental protections, tolerated incursions by armed invaders on Indigenous Peoples’ lands, and overseen a dramatic rise of deforestation rates in the Amazon, undermining years of progress to protect it.

The EU serves as a huge market for Brazilian soy and beef, the production of which drives deforestation and human rights abuses in Brazil on a vast scale. The EU is also Brazil’s second largest trading partner, and taken together, its member states are Brazil’s largest source of foreign direct investment.

 

Contact: Greenpeace EU press desk – +32 (0)2 274 1911, pressdesk.eu@greenpeace.org

 

Note for editors:

Large-scale beef production is the biggest cause of global deforestation, and forests in Brazil have been destroyed on a vast scale to make way for cattle. In 2017, 42% of EU beef imports came from Brazilian transnational corporations that have been heavily subsidized by the Brazilian government. The world’s largest meat processor, JBS, emitted more greenhouse gases in 2016 than the Netherlands. A 2013 study for the European Commission also found that soy expansion was responsible for nearly half of the deforestation embedded in products imported into the EU. Brazil is South America’s largest soy producer, and – until recently – the EU was its biggest market.

 

Read the letter signed 340+ organisations.