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50 European NGOs urge the European Parliament not to ratify the free trade agreement between the EU and New Zealand

Mathilde Dupré & Stéphanie Kpenou, 19 October 2023

[English] [français]

In the coming months, the European Parliament will vote on the EU/New Zealand agreement, described by the European Commission as the "most progressive" trade agreement in terms of sustainability, and designed to serve as a model for future trade agreements. The Committee on International Trade will examine the text on October 23 and 24, and the vote could take place in the Plenary session during the week of November 21.

While this agreement integrates some of the enhancements from the 2021 EU trade policy review and the 2022 new European strategy for trade agreements (i.e Paris Agreement as an essential element, possible recourse to trade sanctions as a last resort and within a limited scope), it will primarily promote the liberalization of products that are harmful to climate and the environment.

The agreement should thus facilitate the entry into the European market of several thousand tons of agricultural products (dairy products, beef and ovine meat) coming from the other side of the world. And this liberalization will not be accompanied by any requirement to comply with European agricultural production standards. For example, atrazine, banned in Europe since 2003, is still used by New Zealand farmers. Yet the agreement includes no clause prohibiting the use of atrazine in products exported to Europe as a precondition.

For this reason, 50 European NGOs are calling on Members of the European Parliament. The EU/New Zealand agreement must be opposed, as it "remains anchored in a production and consumption model that has driven the climate crisis, environmental degradation and social inequalities within and between countries". The organizations call for "a trade policy that meets the challenges of the 21st century and is in line with the EU’s sustainability goals".

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