Tuesday, June 28

Brazil: Spain asks Jair Bolsonaro for commitments on deforestation for the EU-Mercosur agreement to take hold | International

The Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, together with the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, this Friday in Brasilia.
The Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, together with the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, this Friday in Brasilia.FOREIGN MINISTRY / Europa Press

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, received this Thursday in Brasilia the Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, for half an hour. Among the issues addressed, the environment and the EU-Mercosur trade agreement stood out. The chancellor raised this Friday when appearing with his Brazilian counterpart, Carlos França, that Spain is in favor of including an additional protocol in the pact that “includes commitments on deforestation.” Spain trusts that these guarantees will unblock the ratification of the largest trade agreement signed by the EU, which faces strong reluctance from Austria and France.

The ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement, closed two years ago after two decades of negotiation, is a priority for the Spanish Government. President Pedro Sánchez has just urged the European Commission by letter to unblock the matter.

There are also obstacles within Mercosur. Among them, deforestation in the Amazon, which in the last year broke the record of the last twelve years and which, according to the indications, continues to increase. Bolsonaro’s environmental policy raises loud international criticism from NGOs but also from European parliamentarians.

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González Laya has stressed that the EU-Mercosur agreement has the best sustainability chapter of those signed by the EU. But “The sustainability chapter is not enough. We need to perfect this agreement, creating an additional protocol, a reciprocal commitment of Mercosur and the EU with the Paris Agreement (…) and commitments on deforestation ”, insisted González Laya. “We need to perfect the agreement to move forward in the ratification process,” he added.

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The minister wanted to know first-hand the Brazilian position. Bolsonaro has recently issued mixed signals on the environment. At the recent climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden, he reiterated a promise to end deforestation by 2030, promised to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and promised to reinforce inspections, but the next day confirmed a 24% cut in portfolio budget.

The head of Spanish diplomacy framed this official trip in the strategic relationship between Spain and Brazil, a country of 210 million people in which numerous Spanish companies are established and where it is the second country with the largest stock of investments, which are around 80,000 million dollars. Spain is also the eighth destination for Brazilian exports. González Laya, who the day before met with responsible Spanish companies established in the South American giant, assured that “they will continue to invest in Brazil.” The Brazilian Investment Partnership Program, the largest in the world in infrastructure, for an amount of 70,000 million euros, is considered an opportunity for Spanish companies.

To give continuity to bilateral relations, the ministers have signed a memorandum (MOU) that will create a permanent consultation mechanism and facilitate periodic contacts, in line with the binational commission that already exists between Spain and Mexico, according to Spanish diplomatic sources. informs Miguel Gonzalez From Madrid.

The minister is scheduled to meet with the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, this Friday afternoon before continuing to Paraguay, the second country on this official trip. This two-day visit to Brasilia is the first by a member of the Spanish Government to the South American giant since then-President Mariano Rajoy was present in 2017. The meeting between the minister and President Bolsonaro was held in the Planalto palace. In the released photos, all those present are distanced and without masks.

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Bolsonaro’s arrival in power has resulted in growing international isolation from his country. He abandoned the traditional equidistance of Brazil in foreign policy to ally himself with the United States of Donald Trump. His defeat in November left him without his most valuable ally. In these two years, the Brazilian president has hosted a BRICS summit attended by Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Narendra Modi and Cyril Ramaphosa and has received the presidents of neighboring Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay in Brasilia. .

For her part, the Spanish minister arrived in Brazil to relaunch bilateral relations after having traveled to Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay or the Dominican Republic and having received her counterparts from Chile or Argentina in Madrid.

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