“Tall leaders […] reaffirmed the same desire that, by the end of the year, we can conclude the agreement with Mercosur and we have all tried to find solutions to be able to overcome the blockade that we have found”, declared the head of the government.
Speaking to Portuguese journalists in Brussels on the sidelines of the EU summit with the countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which starts today in Brussels and runs until Tuesday , after eight years without high-level meetings between the blocs , António Costa said he hoped “that it will be possible to get there”, in particular because “there is no lack of political will and that is the most important thing”, because “there were times when there was not even the political will”.
“I think everyone is working so that this agreement with Mercosur can be concluded by the end of the Spanish presidency. [da UE, que decorre até final de dezembro]which would simply be the most important economic agreement that exists, more important than what we have with the United States […] and with Canada,” said the Prime Minister.
Emphasizing that “there are several possible technical solutions” to achieve this, António Costa considered that “the solution found very recently for the modernization of the agreement with Chile is an excellent example”, also recalling that there has been “great progress in the negotiation of the agreement with Chile and Mexico”.
“Let’s hope that Mercosur is the next step and that obviously takes a big effort, but […] an institution like the EU, with 27 countries alone with such diverse interests, plus the Mercosur countries, which also have quite diverse interests, it is sometimes difficult to find the point of balance that makes the ‘fair and win-win trade agreement’, he added.
The EU is now awaiting Mercosur’s response to the additional document proposed by the community bloc.
The position comes after Brazilian President Lula da Silva this afternoon defended an EU-Mercosur agreement “based on mutual trust” and not “on threats”, arguing that European environmental requirements are “a pretext for protectionism”.
Within the EU, countries like France and Austria are contesting the EU-Mercosur deal – formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – on trade and environmental grounds.
The current Spanish EU Presidency hopes that this summit will be a starting point for developments in the conclusion of the EU-Mercosur agreement, which covers 25% of the world economy and 780 million people, i.e. almost 10% of the world’s population.
This is also the ambition of Lula da Silva, who said today that he hopes the EU and Mercosur will finalize the trade agreement this year, to “open horizons” for regional blocs, asking for “a sign” of ‘commitment.
Brussels is today and Tuesday hosting the first summit in eight years between the EU and the CELAC countries, which will be attended by more than 50 leaders, including Lula da Silva and António Costa.
This is the EU’s third summit with CELAC, the eighth after that of 2015, and focuses on strengthening the partnership between the two regions to prepare them for new challenges.
Read also: End of the grain agreement? “This is very bad news,” says Costa
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