EU-Mercosur agreement to be signed by end of year, Mercosur presidency hopes

"Even despite the pandemic, the negotiations have never come to a standstill," said Raúl Cano, the foreign ministry's director-general for economic policy. [EFE/Nathalia Aguilar]

The so-called “Southern Common Market” or Mercosur hopes to finally sign by the end of this year the association agreement with the European Union reached in June 2019 after two decades of negotiations, Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Antonio Rivas declared on Tuesday (30 June). EURACTIV’s partner EFE Asunción reports.

Rivas told journalists that during the six months of Paraguay’s temporary presidency of Mercosur, the chapter on politics and cooperation has been closed.

Besides, other aspects still need to be revised and the agreement, which has more than 7,000 pages, still needs to be translated into all EU languages so that it can be subsequently approved by national parliaments, Rivas said.

“We hope that [the agreement] will be signed at the end of the year, under the temporary presidency of Uruguay and the German EU Presidency,” Rivas told the media.

Raúl Cano, the foreign ministry’s director-general for economic policy, admitted at Tuesday’s press conference that “small details of the institutional chapter and some technical details of the economic trade chapter are still missing”.

Free trade and Mercosur on the agenda for the German EU Presidency

The resumption of negotiations on the controversial Mercosur agreement and trade policy with the United States are among the priorities of the German EU Council Presidency. This is unlikely to please other member states. EURACTIV Germany reports.

“The work we have done during the temporary presidency has paved the way for us to start translating this agreement as soon as possible (…) [After that we can] proceed with the signing. We expect this to happen at the end of the next semester, and Mercosur will thus take an important step in its foreign policy positioning”, Cano said.

The director-general for economic policy also pointed out that there has been “substantial progress” with regard to the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), with a final signature expected in the last months of the year.

In addition, during these six months, Mercosur has also made progress in its talks with Canada, South Korea and Singapore, countries with which the South American bloc also hopes to conclude trade agreements in the future, Cano added.

“Even despite the pandemic, the negotiations have never come to a standstill,” he said.

EU-Mercosur deal divides both sides of the Atlantic

Ten days ago, the EU and four Mercosur countries signed a free trade agreement that will cover a market of 780 million consumers. However, diverging opinions on both sides of the Atlantic remain.  EURACTIV’s partner, Euroefe reports.

This semester, Paraguay had offered to promote the multilateralism and trade relations of the South American confederation of states Mercosur, with an ambitious agenda of meetings that had to be transformed into virtual conferences due to the pandemic.

Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez will hand over the temporary presidency of the bloc to his Uruguayan counterpart Luis Lacalle Pou on Thursday (2 July) during a virtual summit.

[Edited by Miriam Burgués, Britta Weppner, Daniel Eck]

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