Austria will probably stop the controversial European Union free trade agreement with the South American Confederation Mercosur. The EU subcommittee in the National Council voted against the agreement, as the Austrian news agency APA reported. This obliges the government to reject the EU-Mercosur agreement at EU level. The pact is about to end, because decisions in the EU Council must be unanimous.
With the Mercosur Agreements agreed at the end of June, the European Union and four South American countries want to build the largest free trade area in the world. This should save companies in the EU every year four billion euros in tariffs and boost exports. The deal must, however, be approved by the national parliaments of the member states.
Because of the fires in the Amazon and the policy of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, among others SPD and Green politicians had demanded the stop of the agreement. However, German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) had pleaded for adherence to the new free trade agreement. At the G7 summit in Biarritz at the end of August, France and Ireland threatened with a veto in the face of the fires if Brazil did not pledge its greater protection of the forest. According to Spiegel , Luxemburg also declared "to put the procedure on hold".
"Success for consumer protection"
Mercosur includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The negotiations have been going on since 2000. The Confederation of Mercosur, with a population of more than 260 million people, is one of the world's major economic areas.
In the Austrian National Council, according to the APA, almost all parties agreed with the request of the SPÖ for rejection, and surprisingly also with the ÖVP. The SPÖ parliamentary leader in the Austrian parliament, Jörg Leichtfried, described the adoption of the motion in a communication as "a great success for consumer, environmental and animal welfare as well as human rights". The approval of the ÖVP had been surprising, as they had argued during the entire committee meeting against the SPÖ application.
FPÖ leader Norbert Hofer said: "The Mercosur agreement is history." He referred to the unanimity principle for decisions in the Council of the European Union. The Austrian Green MEP Monika Vana described the No of Austria as "trend-setting in Europe": "We now have to exert pressure that it holds."