Left MEPs have condemned Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, for refusing to appear before the European Parliament’s Environment Committee to answer questions about the impact on the Amazon forest of the recently agreed EU-Mercosur free trade agreement.

The request for a debate was moved by MEP Anja Hazekamp (Partij voor de Dieren, Netherlands) and endorsed by the Committee following global attention on the fires currently devastating the largest and most biodiverse tract of tropical rainforest in the world.

The agreement with Mercosur is the largest of its kind and is expected to drastically increase EU imports of soya, ethanol, sugar and animal products – all blamed for exacerbating the risk of global warming and fuelling ongoing land grabs, deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

Hazekamp called for the agreement with Mercosur to be scrapped:

“EU trade policies are literally burning the Amazon right now. The lungs of the Earth are being decimated – and that is in a large part due to the European taste for cheap meat, animal feed and biofuels from Brazil. The Mercosur deal will make this much worse, and should be stopped.”

“The free trade agreement with Mercosur will gravely exacerbate deforestation in the Amazon. Malmström does not seem to have the courage to come and defend this disastrous trade deal in the European Parliament. The Amazon is burning. How shameful that the responsible commissioner refuses accountability by the Environment Committee,” said MEP Silvia Modig (Vasemmistoliitto, Finland) criticising Malmström for her absence:

Finally, MEP Malin Björk (Vänsterpartiet, Sweden) accused the EU, and Malmström, for rewarding Brazil’s far right leader:

Bolsonaro is all too happy to sacrifice the Amazon, the climate, biodiversity and the fate of the indigenous peoples and environmental activists for short term profits. This cannot be tolerated, and it certainly cannot be rewarded with a free trade deal.”

“EU trade policy always puts the interests of corporations before people and the planet. Citizens can no longer accept this,” Björk concluded.