The French president who agree to sign a trade agreement with Mercosur that includes trade in agricultural products, that opens the European market to the production of the countryside of a world power like the South American bloc.
The European summit this Thursday should only serve to force Hungary enough to unblock the financial package that the European Union has prepared for Ukraine: 50 billion euros to support Kiev for the next four years and 20 billion more for weapons, which will finally be distributed bilaterally, not en bloc.
While an agreement was sought this week with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbanthe summit began to take another turn at the same time that the European countryside was heating up with protests that in recent days They tried to lay siege to the big capitals with tractors, especially Paris and Brussels.
Pressure from the French camp made the government of the newly appointed Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announce that his country will not sign the agreement that has been negotiated for more than two decades and that already had a first agreement in July 2019 that came to nothing.
Rural protests in France. Photo: AP
Attal's words before the French National Assembly They are the prelude to the summit this Thursday, in which President Emmanuel Macron will ask the European Commission to negotiations with Mercosur have been completed.
European trade agreements are approved by qualified majority and France alone could not veto it, but no one thinks of putting it to a vote against French opinion, in the European Parliament there is not a sufficient majority to approve it and Paris is not alone. Behind French diplomacy, which is more vocal on this matter, hide other countries such as Belgium, Ireland, Austria, Poland, Luxembourg or the Netherlands.
An agreement that is considered dead
The European Commission already gave way this Wednesday, reducing imports of agricultural products Ukrainians and suspending for one year the rule that requires keep 4% of fields fallowbut from the summit The coffin of the agreement with Mercosur could emerge.
France always refused. And although on Tuesday, during a press conference, the chief spokesman of the European Commission, Eric Mamer, said that the negotiations were continuing, the diplomats consulted in Brussels these days They leave him for dead.
Mamer himself had to admit that “right nowor the conditions are not met to conclude the negotiations with Mercosur.”
Row of trucks stranded on a route in France by a countryside picket. Photo: Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP
In reality, from the analysis of European trade policy over the last two decades it can be concluded that those conditions will never be met because the European Union never signed a trade agreement between equals, not even with smaller blocks or countries but powerful in some sector, such as Mercosur in agriculture.
The European Union It does not have trade agreements, for example, with the United States or China, because that would lead her to give in like her counterpart. As the first commercial and economic bloc on the planet (448 million people and one of the highest standards of living) it can afford to sign trade agreements.s only with countries that accept important concessions in exchange for having access to that market.
The largest countries it has signed with are Japan, Canada or Mexico. Countries that agreed to give up much more than the Europeans in exchange for access to the old continent market. The successive governments in the Mercosur countries They never accepted such a level of concessions.