Emmanuel Macron says he will block EU trade deal with Brazil over Amazon forest fires

Jon Stone
Reuters

France will block an EU trade deal with Brazil and its neighbours over the country's handling of fires in the Amazon rainforest, a spokesperson for Emmanuel Macron has said.

Brazil's far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has been criticised around the world for his response to the fires, which scientists say are man-made and campaigners have linked to businesses looking to exploit the land.

"The president can only conclude President Bolsonaro lied to him at the Osaka summit," a spokesperson for the Elysee told the Reuters news agency.

"In these conditions, France will oppose the Mercosur deal as it is."

Conservationists say Mr Bolsonaro, who was elected on a pro-business platform, has tacitly encouraged the setting of fires as part of his pro-business programme. He has said he country cannot fight the blazes, while there has been an 85 per cent increase in fires this year. He was elected last year.

As the world's largest rainforest, the Amazon is a vital store of carbon and a key weapon in the fight against climate change.

The EU-Mercosur trade deal reached agreement in principle earlier this year after 20 years of negotiation. Mercrosur is a trade bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Venezuela also a member but suspended since 2016.

If the deal is ratified it would be the largest trade deal struck by both the EU and Mercosur in terms of population.

Earlier today Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, also indicated that Ireland could try and block the EU trade deal.

“There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honor its environmental commitments,” Mr Varadkar said.

Both Ireland and France would need support from other member states to form a blocking minority to veto the deal.

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Jair Bolsonaro is actively trying to devastate the Amazon rainforest