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EU/Mercosur negotiations stumble, but both sides determined to continue

Friday, March 18th 2011 - 16:46 UTC
Full article 3 comments
Next round of talks is scheduled for May in Asuncion Next round of talks is scheduled for May in Asuncion

The fourth round of European Union/Mercosur negotiations for a trade agreement concluded in Brussels Friday with no major advances which could be a setback for the original plan to have a deal sealed by the end of the year.

Following five ‘intense days of negotiations’ delegates from the EC and Mercosur admitted that “there’s still much to discuss intensely in all areas of negotiations” before an “exhaustive, balanced and ambitious” agreement can be reached.

The EC and Mercosur “continue to prepare intensively their improved trade proposals. When this task is finished, they will jointly decide a date for the simultaneous exchange of those proposals”, said a brief communiqué at the end of the discussions.

Both sides had previously agreed not to make official comments to the media.

According to media sources in Brazil, the European Commission that is the EU negotiator in the round had journalists expelled from the building where talks were been held. Similarly the Mercosur top delegate, Manuel Maria Caceres Deputy Minister of Foreign and Economic Relations from Paraguay that currently holds the rotating chair of the South American group declined to talk with the press at the end of the meeting.

However Mercosur sources said that the fourth round was dedicated to chapters such as origin rules, services, investments, where some advances were recorded but there was no exchange of list of products proposals, as originally planned, because the EC requested for “more time”.

“It’s possible” that the first approach to trade proposals could take place in the coming round scheduled for May 2 to May 6 in Asuncion, Paraguay, but anyhow it will be “most difficult” to comply with the target of concluding negotiations at the end of 2011, as it was planned originally.

Diplomatic sources also revealed that two issues interfered with normal EU/Mercosur discussions: pressures from the EU farming lobby that involve a warning from the European Parliament and Argentina’s ‘protectionist policies’ which are a growing obstacle for normal trade.

European delegates in Argentina said that the ‘EU remains optimistic’ about closing differences as well as on ‘prospects and the final result of negotiations”.

The EC main negotiator Joao Aguiar Machado earlier in the week warned that he was contrary to a fixed calendar for the conclusion of negotiations, even when the EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht was confident an agreement could be reached by the end of 2011, a statement he repeated both in Europe and when he visited Mercosur member countries.


Top Comments

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  • briton

    And still the EU keep pushing, when they suggest,, they realy mean it will happen, one way or another,

    Mar 18th, 2011 - 07:32 pm 0
  • GeoffWard

    One of the problems is that the EU delegates are used to working with Directives and Primary and Secondary legislation and agreements that are profoundly detailed and 'perfectly structured'.

    This is not the way with Mercosur, where the underpinning documents are significantly more rudimentary, leaving many issues unproscribed.

    EU rules do not allow its negotiators to dumb-down the documents of agreements, so it may well take MUCH longer than the end of the year before Mercosur processes reach levels where agreements can be reached and satisfactorily documented.

    This is so different for China - South American deals, each of which is a separate entity, where progress can be rapid, but where each deal drives a coach and horses through developing Mercosur integrative processes.

    Mar 19th, 2011 - 12:57 pm 0
  • briton

    We both know that Directives and other words are of a dictatorship origin is it not.
    the EU is a growing uncontrolled uncaring giant, that has to either question its ability to control, or eventually it will collapse.

    Mar 19th, 2011 - 01:32 pm 0
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