This common position was transmitted by António Costa and Alberto Fernandez in a press conference, after a meeting of about an hour and a half between them in Lisbon.
Portugal and Argentina currently hold, respectively, the rotating presidencies of the Council of the European Union and of Mercosur, and the conclusion of the trade agreement is the main issue under negotiation between these two economic blocs.
“There are still difficulties in Latin America and in Europe because of countries that question the nature of this economic agreement. We have to work harder and we have to use this time to see if we can resolve a set of complementary agreements, namely on climate change and combating deforestation. Here, specifically, we can move forward”, said Fernandez.
The Argentine Government is convinced that the issue of climate change “is central and is a problem that needs to be tackled at global level”.
“Argentina is also a reserve of large green spaces, for example tropical areas in our region of Misiones – a region of five million hectares that we take care of as the lungs of the world,” said the Argentine head of state.
On the issue of the trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, the Portuguese Prime Minister considered that it “has immense economic potential” for the two regional blocs and even “on a global scale”.
“Once the pandemic has been overcome, the main priority will be to rebuild economies and overcome the social crisis. In this context, this trade agreement will be very important”, he argued.
In an attempt to de-dramatise the current situation, António Costa said that, “as always in trade agreement negotiations, there are problems, because there are interests on both sides, which is normal”.
“But there is something very important that we can do right away: A complementary commitment on the critical issues of climate change and forest protection. On this, I think we are in a position to move forward,” he said.
For the Prime Minister, “this is the moment when the European Commission has a duty to present its proposal”.
“I believe that there are conditions now – something that did not exist a year ago – for us to be able to find a rapid agreement on these two issues, which I believe are consensual among the 27 member states of the European Union and among all the Mercosur countries. At this moment, we are asking for urgency to move forward now and resolve these issues”, he insisted.
In the Portuguese Prime Minister’s view, if the environmental issues are resolved, “the whole political climate will change completely between the European Union and Mercosur”.
“This will allow us to move forward to complete the agreement at the trade level. This is a very important sign and one of confidence for economic agents, who now have the idea that within one or two years they will have a very powerful trade agreement”, he added.