Mercosur held a summit on Thursday of decisions and tensions between its members, in addition to criticism of Europe for the obstacles to closing the strategic partnership agreement between the two blocs.

"I confess to you that it was a dream of mine to close this agreement in my presidency and the presidency of comrade Pedro Sánchez," said Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, host of the summit in Rio de Janeiro.

"I believe that never before in the history of Mercosur have so many people been discussed: with almost all the heads of state and government of the European Union, with almost all their negotiators. There was no flexibility. I appeal to Macron to stop being so protectionist," he added.

Lula, who handed over the pro tempore presidency of the bloc to his Paraguayan counterpart, Santiago Peña, revealed details of his negotiations with the EU and the response that came from Brussels.

"It was unacceptable, they treated us as if we were inferior beings, colonized countries, with a great lack of respect. I told Pedro Sánchez that that tone and that letter was unacceptable. I think the text we have now is more balanced." "Dear comrade Peña [he added, addressing the Paraguayan head of state], when you become president, never give up. Insist, insist and insist."

The strategic partnership agreement between Mercosur and the EU, which has been under negotiation for almost 24 years, is on the verge of being finalized, but Macron stopped the signing by describing the consensus text as "outdated".

Mercosur, which incorporates Bolivia as a member, is completed by Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Lula had emotional words of special affection for Alberto Fernández, the Argentine president, who will leave office this Sunday, succeeded by the ultra-liberal Javier Milei.

"You had to deal with a pandemic and a drought, they deserved better luck during your period. And our friendship continues, it's not an obligatory friendship," the Brazilian told the Argentine, who refuses to sign the agreement agreed by Lula with the EU.

Fernandez was not present at the meeting when it was time for Uruguay's Luis Lacalle Pou to speak, praising the free trade agreement signed at this summit by Mercosur with Singapore.

"It's a very important signal. It is the first with Asia, one of the most dynamic regions in the world in terms of international trade," said the Uruguayan before exposing his usual critical view of the functioning of the bloc.

"I am very sceptical about the agreement with the EU, but I must acknowledge the great work of President Lula. You know that I had a recent state visit to China. And we insist on our desire for a free trade agreement. President Lula told me at the time 'we are going to hurry up with the EU and then we will go with China'. And President Xi Jinping said he is in favor of speeding up the deal with Uruguay. But I believe that there is no will in Mercosur to move forward in free trade with China. We are going to move forward, says President Lula. Understand that we will move forward first."

Although Lula will no longer be able to sign the agreement with the EU, there is still a possibility that it will be closed and that it will be Sánchez who will do so as one of the representatives of Europe and Peña on behalf of Mercosur. "We are going to deploy a strategy to move forward as soon as possible" in signing the agreement, Diana Mondino, Milei's designated foreign minister, said this week in Buenos Aires.