At the 2019 Osaka G20 summit, leaders of key European Union and Mercosur nations (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) announced plans for the creation of one of the world’s largest free trade agreements. If ratified, this means the elimination of 93% of tariffs for Mercosur imports into the EU, potentially flooding Europe, and by extension Irish, markets with cheap South American agricultural goods such as Sugar, Soy, Ethanol and, most crucially, Beef. This trade agreement not only undermines the economic stability of Irish farmers but also encourages the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, to make way for large scale farming for the new market of Mercosur’s beef. The EU’s symbolic, yet impotent, support for any action against climate change is undermined by this deal and as a result, Irish socialists cannot reconcile supporting the European Union with any meaningful, radical climate change activism.
We must first look at the reality of the EU’s policy regarding Climate change. Backed by ambitious policies set in binding legislation, the EU has ratified the 2016 Paris Agreement and has taken steps to building an Energy Union and a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. On the surface, it seems that the political and economic union does see itself as vanguard of climate action in the world today, but we must look at the material reality of the policies that the union of 28 member states supports.
There are very real, measurable consequences to expanding free trade on an international scale. The EU has been negligent in its role to protect its own native farming. In 2012 the EU imported almost 93 million tonnes of food from outside the EU. Meanwhile, European farmers worry for their future as a result of Climate Change. Farming groups from over eight countries have launched legal action against the EU for not protecting their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property. The over reliance upon foreign imports neglects the ecological collapse happening in the EU itself.
Perhaps more importantly, the demand for imports only incentivises corporations outside the EU into destroying their own environment. If the EU opens its markets to large amounts of South American goods, we know that capitalists in the Amazon will only have more reason to rape the Amazon to increase their output. Organisations like Mercosur and the European Union work hand in hand in the interests of free market capitalism. If we oppose the destruction of the Amazon, how can we support an institution like the EU, that is able to encourage it’s destruction whilst giving the impression that it is eco-friendly. This will only continue the narrative that China, India or the global south are massive polluters and need to become more green like Europe. We are simply exporting the climate guilt of European people and placing it upon post-colonial nations.
If we are to combat climate change and the forces of international capitalism, we must encourage an anti-EU narrative at home in Ireland. Irish farmers are being sold the lie, by the likes of Noel Grealish and the Yellow Vest Movement, that it is the fault of Asylum Seekers, not capitalists, disregarding the need for food sustainability in Ireland. We must be able to effectively combat Climate change. 93% of Europeans believe that Climate Change is a serious issue. The EU as an institution is built on the foundations of neoliberalism and because of that, it must be opposed and it must be dismantled. The EU-Mercosur deal will do more than just destroy the livelihood of small Irish farmers.
EU leads global fight against climate change – European External Action Service
EU trade in food – Product – Eurostat
‘We can’t see a future’: group takes EU to court over climate change | Environment | The Guardian
Burger King Deforests Lands in Brazil, Bolivia for Cattle Feed | News | teleSUR English
European Commission – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – Paris Agreement to enter into force as EU agrees ratification