Wallonia ‘completely opposed’ to EU trade deal with South American bloc
Share article:
Share article:

Wallonia ‘completely opposed’ to EU trade deal with South American bloc

A farmers demonstration against the EU-Mercosur free trade deal, which Wallonia said it could not approve in its current state. © Belga

Wallonia is “completely” opposed to a free trade deal between the EU and South American trading bloc Mercosur, the region’s leader said, in a potential blow to the EU as it seeks ratification from member states to implement the deal.

“We are completely opposed to the deal in its current form — for the Walloon government, it’s a no,” the Francophone region’s minister-president, Elio Di Rupo, said in a radio interview.

After years of negotiations, the deal between the EU and Mercosur members Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil, was approved in principle in the spring of 2019.

Ahead of its implementation, the deal must still be ratified by EU bodies as well as overcome the hurdle of receiving approval from all EU member states.

The agreement would cut tariffs on Mercosur agricultural goods, notably beef and poultry, coming into the EU market. In return, it would grant the EU’s chemicals, automotive and manufacturing industries tariff-free access to the world’s 5th largest market, and improve access to EU wine and cheese producers.

In an interview with RTBF, Di Rupo said the deal would lead to “mass imports” of beef to flood the EU market, putting Walloon farmers on unequal footing with South American ranchers bound by laxer health and production regulations.

Related News:


“We support international trade but not without conditions — we want the environmental, social and sanitary criteria that apply in Europe and in Belgium to also apply to those countries,” he said.

The leader of the Walloon region also expressed concern over the far-right leader of Brazil, avowed climate-sceptic Jair Bolsonaro, who has been accused of aggravating the deforestation crisis in the Amazon rainforest, after he moved to undermine environmental and indigenous protections to boost the cattle industry.

Di Rupo’s comments come as the Wallon parliament prepares to discuss the deal on Monday, and mark the second time the regional parliament moves against the EU’s trade aspirations.

In 2016, Wallonia delivered a near-fatal blow to the EU’s controversial CETA trade agreement with Canada, blocking its approval by Belgium’s federal government, which ultimately was the last EU government to approve the deal.

The federal government’s approval of international free trade deals depends on their prior approval by the country’s regional governments.

The Francophone leader said Wallonia would not be able to approve the deal if changes were not made to its conditions.

The Wallon government’s concerns have been echoed by Austria, after its parliament rejected the deal over environmental concerns in Brazil, over which France and Ireland have also threated a boycott.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

More women take police selection tests in Belgium
The selection tests to become a police inspector have more and more female participants, according to figures released by Interior Affairs Minister ...
‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules
Several city councillors for education in Brussels are calling to abolish the "absurd" differences in coronavirus measures for Dutch-speaking and ...
Massive renovations for iconic venue in the heart of Brussels
Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique has announced plans to renovate the AB Café and the AB Salon and is looking for a contractor fit for the job. ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Test results show pupils have fallen behind in Flemish schools
Learning delays have been reported in almost all subject areas in Flanders since the start of the pandemic, a trend that continued in 2021, a ...
Belgium considers relaxing testing rules for UK travellers
At the next Consultative Committee meeting, Belgium will look into relaxing the testing and entry policy for travellers coming from the United ...
Jette libraries start giving plants away with books
Visitors to libraries in the Brussels municipality of Jette will soon be able to pick up a free plant along with a book, thanks to the new Plantotek ...
‘Do what you want, but do it as safely as possible,’ experts warn
As the daily number of new coronavirus infections exceeds 3,000 for the first time since May, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe and ...
‘We’re running dry’: Brussels teacher shortage reaches critical levels
The teacher shortage in Brussels is affecting schools across language borders, according to Brussels’ Minister for Multilingualism and Dutch ...
New coronavirus infections above 3,000 for first time since May
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has skyrocketed to the highest rate since the start of May 2021. Between 9 and 15 October, ...
Belgium in Brief: Getting To The Airport
When I saw the news of plans for a tram line and cycle path to connect Brussels' outskirts to the airport, my first reaction was sheer joy.  Let ...
EU should invest €5 trillion in climate plan, says State Secretary for Economic Recovery
The European Union must invest €5 trillion in its climate plan over the next decade to "retain its credibility as a political project," according ...