Leaked EU-Mercosur trade agreement promising for animal welfare

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Leaked EU-Mercosur trade agreement promising for animal welfare

7 December 2017
News
The leaked Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay) trade negotiations documents contain the EU’s proposal to Mercosur on animal welfare cooperation. The proposal goes further than anything achieved before with a trading partner.

As Mercosur is the EU’s first source of imported meat [2], these negotiations are crucial for animal welfare. The leaked proposal on animal welfare cooperation – to be found in the chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures – includes for the first time a recognition of the sentience of animals, adding that both countries should “undertake to respect trade conditions for live animals and animal products that are aimed to protect their welfare”. This would be an important statement as sentience is not enshrined in the law of Mercosur countries. The second part of the paragraph hints at mandatory consideration for welfare when trading.

The chapter also insists on cooperation aiming to “align regulatory standards related to breeding, holding, handling, transportation and slaughter of farm animals”. If Mercosur were to agree, this would be a huge step forward. It would be the first time a trading partner, not in the EU’s neighbourhood, agrees to work towards regulatory alignment in the field.

Interestingly the SPS chapter also calls for more research cooperation, notably to establish adequate and science-based animal welfare standards, which can serve as a basis for a strong cooperation at the international level (in the OIE – the World Organisation for Animal Health). Reinforcing the international governance on animal welfare can only have a positive impact and help the EU in its effort to promote better animal welfare worldwide.

The market access offer made to Mercosur by the EU in 2016 (also leaked yesterday) reveals another interesting detail for animal welfare. While the figures were already known, the document drafted by the EU contains a paragraph indicating some conditions linked to the offer. Among them, one relates to eggs and call for the application of animal welfare standards equivalent to the ones contained in the EU laying eggs regulation. This approach, defended by Eurogroup for Animals as “conditional liberalisation”, had been already suggested to the United States in the context of the TTIP negotiations. It is thus positive to see the EU maintaining such approach, even if the EU should also consider using such approach for other sensitive products.

Reineke Hameleers, Director for Eurogroup for Animals says, ‘‘We commend the EU on this offer and hope that the European Commission will  stand its ground. No additional market access should be granted without a commitment to converge in terms of animal welfare standards’’.

Contact:

Stephanie Ghislain, Trade & Animal Welfare Project Leader, Tel: +32 (0)2 740 08 96, Email: s.ghislain@eurogroupforanimals.org

Notes:

[1] The leaked EU-Mercosur papers published by Greenpeace Netherlands are dated July 2017 (plus one document from 2016). If it is concluded, the EU-Mercosur agreement could be the EU’s biggest ever trade deal, covering a trade volume similar to the EU’s trade with Japan.
[2] According to Greenpeace Netherlands, Mercosur countries currently export about 200,000 tonnes of beef to the EU.

We commend the EU on this offer and hope that the European Commission will  stand its ground. No additional market access should be granted without a commitment to converge in terms of animal welfare standards.
Reineke Hameleers, Director at Eurogroup for Animals