The Federal Government has maintained the trade agreement with the Mercosur states despite the continuing fires in the Amazon (Mercosur is the abbreviated name for the "Common Market of South America"). This contains "an important lever to strengthen the ties of the Mercosur partners to multilateral environmental and climate agreements", writes the Federal Ministry of Economics in response to a small request from the Left, which is available to SPIEGEL.
The contract binds the partners to the Paris Climate Agreement "together with its agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop the illegal logging of forests".
In the case of infringements, however, no sanctions are foreseen; instead, according to the EU Commission, only one dispute resolution mechanism would apply. "The environmental standards to which the federal government refers are not enforceable," criticizes the left-wing MP Fabio De Masi. "It is completely grotesque that the federal government continues to pursue the ratification of Mercosur while the green lung of the world is being burned by Brazil." Non-ratification, on the other hand, is a measure comparable to economic sanctions.
Berlin is playing for time
The Federal Government wants to let time with the explosive decision meanwhile. "At the moment, there is a formal legal review of the treaty texts," writes the Ministry of Economic Affairs, "so that the question of ratification or conclusion is not currently being raised."
The destruction of the Amazon rainforest has greatly accelerated since the seizure of power by Brazilian right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro. The dramatic images of burning forests in the EU raised louder criticism of the proposed association agreement with the Mercosur states.
France, Ireland and Luxembourg recently threatened to veto the ratification of the treaty. Other EU countries, such as Germany, fear that such a move would give up an important opportunity to influence the governments of the Mercosur states.
The EU Commission had only reached agreement with Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in June after more than two decades of negotiations. However, the agreement, which would lead to the largest free trade area in the world, still has to be ratified by all EU Member States.