France moves to block EU-Mercosur deal as farmers continue protest

As the country is rocked by farmer protests, France vowed Wednesday to prevent a trade deal between the European Union and the South American Mercosur bloc which would slash tariffs and open up the EU to goods not up to local standards.

The trade deal, which includes agricultural powers Argentina and Brazil, is among a litany of complaints by farmers in France and elsewhere in Europe who have been blocking roads to demand better conditions for their sector.

They fear it would further depress their produce prices amid increased competition from exporting nations that are not bound by strict and costly EU environmental laws.

"This Mercosur deal, as it stands, is not good for our farmers. It cannot be signed as is," Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told broadcasters CNews and Europe 1.

The European Commission acknowledged this week that the conditions to conclude the deal with Mercosur, which also includes Paraguay and Uruguay, "are not quite there yet".

The talks, however, are continuing, the commission said.

President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that France opposes the deal because it lacks having "Mercosur farmers and companies abide by the same rules as ours".

On this subject, the EU and the South American nations have been negotiating since 2000.

The contours of a deal were agreed in 2019, but a final version still needs to be ratified.

It aims to cut import tariffs on mostly European industrial and pharmaceutical goods and agricultural products.

"It serves corporate interests, at the expense of planetary boundaries and animal welfare and drives untenable social inequalites," the organisation states.

Read more on RFI English

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