The president of Paraguay, Santiago Peña, stated that he will leave negotiations between Mercosur and the European Union if the parties do not reach an agreement before December, when Brazil will hand over leadership of the bloc to Asunción.
The president criticized the progress of the negotiations even before assuming the presidency of Mercosur, scheduled for December 6th.
Shortly after returning from the United States, where he participated in the United Nations General Assembly, Peña assured that he informed his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, of his intention to seek other agreements.
“I asked President Lula to close the negotiation, because if he doesn’t close it, I won’t continue next semester,” said Peña at a press conference. “I will dedicate the next semester to concluding agreements with other regions of the world and I am sure that we will reach an agreement very quickly”, added the Paraguayan.
Lula has already confirmed that he hopes to conclude negotiations on the agreement with the EU this year. They have been suspended since 2019, largely due to environmental concerns on the European continent.
EU-Mercosur agreement without threats
Brazil assumed the Presidency of Mercosur intending to give a “boost” to the bloc’s external agenda, in addition to continuing negotiations with the European Union. The agreement between the parties, which already spans two decades of talks, reached a resolution in 2019 when both sides reached a general political agreement to seal a free trade pact.
Even with the agreement, some rough edges of technical aspects are still being resolved. However, the progress of these resolutions became more complicated due to new demands from Europe that establish conditions related to environmental issues for the conclusion of the trade agreement between the two blocs.
President Lula has already said that, if it depends on his will, the Mercosur-EU trade agreement will be concluded in 2023, but stressed that the South American bloc “will not accept threats”, after insinuating an intransigent stance during the negotiations, especially due to part of France.
“In the letter from the European Union, there is a threat: ‘if there is no agreement, there will be punishment’. We do not accept this. We responded, sent the letter to Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina, and Mauro (Vieira, Minister of Foreign Affairs) takes care of it. We should have already sent it to the European Union”, said the president at a press conference during a trip to Luanda, capital of Angola, in August.
The letter in question is an additional document proposed by Brussels that provides for sanctions in case of non-compliance with environmental targets.
“I want to close the deal this year. We’ve been fighting for this for 20 years. It’s not easy to negotiate with the French, it’s very difficult, because they want you to give up everything and they don’t want to give up anything. They value their little chicken, their little wine, a lot, but the agreement is a necessity for Brazil and for them”, he said.