Portugal, Argentina vow to progress on EU-Mercosur agreement

The trade agreement reached in June 2019 between the EU and the Mercosur countries is currently in the translation and legal review phase [Shutterstock/Beto Gomez]

Portugal and Argentina, which hold the presidencies of the EU Council and Mercosur, respectively, have agreed to make progress on the outstanding issues for the entry into force of the EU-Mercosur agreement, Argentina’s government has announced.

“The authorities of the two countries agreed on the need to make progress during the presidencies held by the two countries in each bloc in order to conclude the outstanding agreements and to be able to bring about the signing of the Mercosur-EU agreement”, the Argentine foreign ministry announced.

At a virtual meeting between Portugal’s Secretary of State for European Affairs, Ana Paula Zacarias, and Argentina’s Secretary of International Economic Relations, Jorge Neme, the two countries agreed they would concentrate their efforts on the issues that still prevent the ratification of the agreement.

The deal will need to go through the European Parliament and the Congresses of each Mercosur country (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), although the treaty could also enter into force unilaterally between Europe and each Mercosur country that approves the text.

The outstanding issues

Among the outstanding issues are technical aspects such as the lists of geographical indications covering products with designation of origin, but also issues of strong political relevance such as the environment, which has been questioned by European countries such as France.

On the environmental aspect, Argentina stressed the need to tackle the issue with a commitment linked to a process of sustainable development of the economies.

“There was a special emphasis on linking the environmental issue with the objective of sustainable development of countries because further development will allow for an improvement in environmental standards,” the note stated.

Portugal and Argentina agreed on the “great importance” that the signing and entry into force of the agreement will have in contributing to the economic recovery after the pandemic.

Argentina also stressed the importance of a declaration on the Falklands, insisting that the EU, now without the United Kingdom, declare the archipelago a disputed area.

“Secretary Neme stressed the need for a declaration related to the Malvinas issue”, the communiqué noted.

Argentina wants the post-Brexit EU to consider the Falklands as a disputed area and not as UK overseas territory. The archipelago, under British rule since the occupation in 1833, has its sovereignty claimed by Argentina.

This is the second meeting that Portugal and Argentina hold as representatives of their respective blocs in a six-month leadership role.

On 18 December 2020, just after Argentina took over the rotating Mercosur presidency, the foreign ministers of the two countries held a meeting to coordinate strategies and agenda.

The agreement between the European Union and Mercosur was closed in July 2019, after twenty years of negotiations.

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