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¾ of the public ask for EU-Mercosur trade deal to be stopped if it drives deforestation - poll

September 10, 2020

The EU should only agree to trade deals aligning with its commitments to tackle climate change, respondents say

3 out of 4 Europeans surveyed want the EU-Mercosur trade deal to be stopped if it contributes to deforestation and environmental damage, according to a YouGov poll released today(1). Ran across France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, the poll seeks to clarify the public perception of the trade deal in the face of the escalating violence of the 2020 forest fires season in the Amazon.

Data from France indicates that 78% of respondents see the need to stop the EU/Mercosur trade deal on the basis of its risks, including increased deforestation in the Amazon and loss of wildlife. The same position is held by Spanish (78%), Germans (74%) and Dutch (71%). Figures for over 55 years old people are particularly revealing, with 79% of respondents within that age range across the 4 countries being in favour of stopping the trade deal if it contributes to deforestation and environmental damage in the Amazon.

The public in all surveyed countries also want the EU to only agree to trade deals which are in line with its commitments to tackle climate change, with more than 70% of respondents surveyed in agreement. The overwhelming majority of the public of Spain shares the same view (82%), followed by respondents from France, Netherlands and Germany (with figures at 79%, 75% and 72%).

Martin Konecny, Coordinator of the Seattle to Brussels Network said: “This deal takes us backwards. The EU-Mercosur deal will exacerbate deforestation and the climate crisis through the expansion of car exports and the expansion of feed monocultures and grazing land. Now is the time to stop this deal of the past and start cooperation that puts people and planet first.”

The results of the poll match the impressive numbers reached by petitions (2) organised by Campact, DUH (Deutsche umwelthilfe), Foodwatch, Greenpeace Germany, MesOpinions, Rainforest Rescue, SumOfUs, and WeMove.eu. Close to 1.7  million signatures have been collected in support of halting the EU-Mercosur trade deal as long as the Amazon is burning. 

Fatah Sadaoui, Campaigns Manager at SumOfUs, said: "By taking action and signing the petitions, Europeans are sending a crystal clear message to Brussels: they don't want an EU-Mercosur deal that would put profit before the planet and the people. Close to 1.7 million Europeans have been voicing their opposition to this environment wrecking trade deal for months now, so today's poll results are no surprise to us.”

Fires in the Amazon are intentionally set to clear and prepare land for pasture, cattle rearing and other forms of agricultural production. The Bolsonaro government has come under increasing international pressure over its handling of the fires and wider roll back of environmental protections since it came into power.

Germany has recently joined the ranks of EU Member States expressing doubts on the Mercosur trade deal. After declarations by Chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting with youth climate activists including Ms Greta Thunberg made headlines, German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner added that the “trade agreement will not be ratified in the short term” and that a large majority of EU agriculture ministers are “very, very skeptical” about the deal.

The EU Mercosur deal is due to be presented to Council for discussion this Autumn.

Notes for editors

  1. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 5329 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 1st - 4th September 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all adults in Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands (aged 18+).The full data tables of the poll can be found at: sumofus.org/eu-mercosur-poll
  2. As of Tuesday September 8, 2020, 1,685,000 signatures have been collected by Campact, DUH (Deutsche umwelthilfe), Foodwatch, Greenpeace Germany, MesOpinions, Rainforest Rescue, SumOfUs, and WeMove.eu.