Green light for EU agreements with Chile and Kenya

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The farmers’ protest in Europe and the UK is not enough to slow down the rush of MEPs towards new international free trade agreements, now also with Chile and Kenya.

Imports of low-cost agricultural products into the EU from thousands of kilometers away will thus increase, to the detriment of family and peasant farms in all the countries involved.

1) European Union, the new free trade agreements

The February 28 2024 at the free trade agreement with New Zealand, already acclaimed by the European Parliament, has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. (1) And on 29 February 2024 – indifferent to the farmers’ protests – the ‘short-term’ MEPs moved forward with new agreements.

The European Parliament approved the free trade agreements with Chile and Kenya by a large majority, respectively, 376 out of 546 deputies (69%) and 366 out of 508 (72%). As always:

– in favor of ‘free trade agreements’ the popular political groups (People’s Party Europe, PPE), liberals (Renew Europe), conservatives (Fratelli d’Italia, i.e. Coldiretti. European Conservatives and Reformists, ECR), socialists and ‘democrats’ (S&D).

– only the left-wing (The Left) and green (Verts/ALE) parliamentary groups were against and abstained. (2)

2) EU – Chile, the new agreement

 Only on the agricultural front, the EU-Chile agreement increases zero-duty import quotas for meat from several species. Poultry (18.000 t), pork (9.000 t), sheep meat (4.000 t), beef (2.000 t), in addition to the already existing quotas and those introduced with the EU-New Zealand agreement (38.000 t of sheep meat , 10.000 t of beef). (3) This will be enough to aggravate the crisis of the livestock sector and in particular of small farmers in the European Union.

The EU – Chile agreement it also introduces new quotas for fruit preparations (10.000 t) and for olive oil (11.000 t). In addition to allowing the import of apples, kiwis and honey without quantity limits or customs duties, which will cross the planet to end up on our shelves. And above all – in defiance of the (false) promises of the European Commission – reciprocity of production standards is not envisaged. That is to say that Chilean agricultural products will not have to meet the production requirements (and thus, the higher costs) established in the EU.

2.1) The race for minerals and rare metals

The agreements of free trade, it goes without saying, do not only concern the agricultural sector. Or rather, the zero-duty import quotas for Chilean agricultural products have served to obtain the minerals and rare earths coveted by large European industries (which in the meantime are closing, asphyxiated by the costs of US liquid gas).

The EU-Chile agreement it should ensure better access to raw materials and clean fuels such as lithium, copper and hydrogen‘, we read in the press release of the European Parliament. (4) Without exacerbating mining pressure and the already numerous socio-environmental conflicts in South America.

It can not missand finally, a system of arbitrary resolution of disputes between investors and states (Investor–State dispute settlement, ISDS). That is, a ‘parallel justice’ that allows large investors to challenge EU and Member State regulations that ‘hinder’ their interests. For example, in matters of socio-environmental sustainability.

3) EU – Kenya Agreement

‘Thanks’ to the EU – Kenya agreement, the African country and the neighboring countries with which it shares a customs union will no longer be able to implement policies to support the incomes of their agricultural producers (e.g. guaranteed minimum price) and protect their markets.

The giants of trading they will instead be able to collapse the European prices of fruit, vegetables and flowers, through imports of low-cost African products.

No attention, also in this case, to the objectives that the European Union claims to pursue. With particular regard to the reduction of inequality, respect for human and workers’ rights, protection of the environment and animal welfare.

4) Civil society mobilisations

In France and Latin America dozens of civil society organizations – including Confédération paysanne, the peasant agricultural confederation par excellence (5) – have mobilized to ask MEPs to vote against the EU-Chile and EU-Kenya agreements. (6)

The protest also continues against the ratification of the agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries, which the writer has repeatedly denounced for the seriousness of the socio-environmental impacts and on agricultural production in Europe (7,8).

Confédération paysanne he therefore faced Emanuel Macron head-on, last week at the Agricultural Show. And the French and Belgian farmers besieged the European quarter of Brussels with tractors, just when the elderly showgirls of Coldiretti were celebrating their ‘brother-in-law minister’.

5) Another Europe is possible

Another Europe is possible, on the condition of expelling from the European Parliament the treacherous bread-eaters of the political groups who voted for these agreements which are harmful to family and peasant farming in the North and South of the world.

The only condition for free trade agreements it must be the reciprocity of production conditions, as regards:

  • social, trade union and workers’ rights
  • protection of the environment and biodiversity
  • safety of agri-food products
  • fair price for all farmers, everywhere. (9)

#fairtrade, #VanghePulite, #Égalité

Dario Dongo

Footnotes

(1) Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and New Zealand https://tinyurl.com/2p9azv4w

(2) Voting explanations of the EU-Chile and EU-Kenya agreements https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/PV-9-2024-02-29-RCV_IT.html

(3) Proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Interim Agreement on trade between the European Union and the Republic of Chile https://tinyurl.com/2n8atra6

(4) Parliament backs deeper political and economic ties with Chile. European Parliament. Press release. 29.2.24 https://tinyurl.com/bdhxy56k

(5) Dario Dongo. Confédération paysanne and LiberiAgricoltori, the reasons for the protest. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(6) STOP CETA Mercosur. Write to European parliamentarians: «Vote NOT according to the EU-Chili and EU-Kenya agreements!» 24.2.24 https://tinyurl.com/mwj7kcmw

(7) Dario Dongo, Giulia Torre. EU – Mercosur, toxic trade agreement. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(8) Dario Dongo. Brazil, pesticide massacres are added to deforestation. Unsustainable EU-Mercosur agreement. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

(9) Dario Dongo, Giulia Baldelli. Fair trade, ABC. The Christmas we would like every single day. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.