In an open letter, over 340 civil society organisations are demanding that the European Union immediately halt free trade agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) on the grounds of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions in Brazil. The letter is addressed to presidents of the EU institutions ahead of the ministerial-level meeting next week in Brussels where EU and Mercosur foreign ministers aim to finalise the negotiations.

Mato Grosso, Brazil – Photo by Icaro Cooke Vieira/CIFOR cifor.orgCC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dowload the PDF version of the letter here.

German version of the letter (PDF)French version of the letter Spanish versionPortuguese version

” Dear President of the European Council, President of the European Commission, President of the European Parliament,

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, are writing to call on the European Union to use its influence to prevent a worsening human rights and environmental situation in Brazil.

In April, more than 600 European scientists and two Brazilian Indigenous organizations, representing 300 Brazilian Indigenous groups, called for the EU to act as a global leader in supporting human rights, human dignity and a habitable climate by making sustainability the cornerstone of its trade negotiations with Brazil. We fully support this call.

Bound by the Treaty of the European Union, the EU and its Member States vowed to respect and promote human rights as an overarching objective in its dealings with other countries. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has also clearly stated the need for new EU trade agreements to deliver sustainable development.

Since the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in January 2019, we have witnessed increased human rights violations, attacks on minorities, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ and other traditional communities. Moreover, the administration continues to threaten the basic democratic functioning of civil society while instigating a fundamental assault on some of the world’s most precious and ecologically valuable regions.

We are deeply concerned about the following:

  • Indigenous lands demarcation has been put under the jurisdiction of the Agriculture Ministry, paving the way for powerful cattle and soy agribusinesses to accelerate their sweep through the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest and the Cerrado, the world’s most biodiverse savannah. Though this controversial measure appears to have been temporarily reversed in May by the Brazilian Senate, President Bolsonaro may still veto it.
  • There has been a dramatic increase in attacks on Indigenous people, other traditional communities and their territories. In February, at least 14 protected Indigenous territories were reported to be under attack from invaders. In addition, the government abolished more than 35 national councils of social participation. Attacks on people defending their territories or natural resources are on the rise in rural Brazil, resulting in increasing deaths of community leaders, peasants and activists.
  • Bolsonaro’s campaign promise of “ending any form of activism” was implemented on his first day in office, empowering the government to “supervise, coordinate, monitor and observe the activities and actions of international agencies and non-governmental organisations within national territory.”
  • Both the Environment Ministry and the Foreign Affairs Ministry are now led by deniers of global warming, leading to the abolishment of departments responsible for climate change. Even as Brazil remains a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, it is becoming unlikely that the administration will take the necessary measures to implement the agreement.
  • Socio-environmental legislation and policies have been dramatically weakened during the first 100 days of the new government. The Forest Code has been undermined with new measures proposing the reduction of legal reserves and a more flexible deadline for land regularization by landgrabbers. In January 2019, deforestation in the Amazon reportedly rose by 54 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

Civil society actors, activists, peasants, workers and minorities face extreme dangers from the incendiary rhetoric of the Bolsonaro government and its supporters. This includes his labeling of members of grassroots movements like the Landless Workers Movement and the Movement of Homeless as “terrorists,” generating concerns that Brazil’s controversial anti-terrorist law will be used to criminalize social activists.

The EU is Brazil’s second-largest trading partner overall, second-largest importer of Brazilian soy and a major importer of Brazilian beef and other agricultural products. The EU, therefore, has a responsibility to address human rights and environmental injustices taking place in Brazil under the Bolsonaro government. It must use its leverage to support civil society, human rights and the environment.

The EU is in the midst of negotiating a far-reaching Mercosur trade deal that seeks to expand market access and trade between the two regions, including Brazil. It is imperative that the EU sends an unequivocal message to President Bolsonaro that the EU will refuse to negotiate a trade deal with Brazil until there is an end to human rights violations, strict measures to end further deforestation and concrete commitments to implement the Paris Agreement.

In the past, the EU has suspended trade preferences with countries involved in human rights violations, such as Myanmar and the Philippines. In addition, the EU has restricted imports of products whose production is related to human rights in the case of conflict minerals. It is time that the EU takes a similar, tough stance to prevent a deterioration of the human rights and environmental situation in Brazil.

We therefore call on you to:

  1. Immediately halt negotiations for an EU-Mercosur free trade agreement.
  2. Guarantee that no Brazilian products sold in the EU, nor the financial markets underpinning them, are leading to increases in deforestation, land grabbing of native lands or human rights violations.
  3. Demand confirmation, with material evidence, that the Brazilian government will fulfill its commitments as part of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
  4. Increase support for Brazilian civil society, including strengthening the implementation of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and proactive consultations with Brazilian civil society organisations that address human rights and the democratic functioning of Brazilian civil society.
  5. Monitor and respond to human rights violations—including investigating cases since Bolsonaro’s election—and strengthen mechanisms to protect human rights defenders. For those most at risk, including Indigenous peoples and environmental defenders, the EU should provide direct and urgent support where required, including through political representations.

Sincerely, “

ALBA MovimientosInternational
FIAN InternationalInternational
foodwatch internationalInternational
ISP InteramericasInternational
OMCT – World Organisation Against TortureInternational
Plataforma América Latina mejor sin TLCInternational
Alianza BiodiversidadInternational
PSI Public Service International Américas International
CIDSE – International family of Catholic social justice organisationsEurope
Climate AllianceEurope
Corporate Europe Observatory Europe
ACT Alliance EU Europe
EU-LAT NetworkEurope
European Coordination Via CampesinaEurope
European Environmental BureauEurope
Food & Water EuropeEurope
Friends of the Earth EuropeEurope
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) EuropeEurope
S2B networkEurope
Slow Food EuropeEurope
Acción por la BiodiversidadArgentina
Amigos de la Tierra ArgentinaArgentina
AMUMRA – Asociación Civil de Derechos Humanos Mujeres Unidas Migrantes y Refugiadas en ArgentinaArgentina
Asamblea Argentina mejor sin TLCArgentina
ATTAC ArgentinaArgentina
COMUNA (Colectiva en Movimiento por una Universidad Nuestramericana) en el FPDS-CNArgentina
Diálogo 2000 – Jubileo Sur ArgentinaArgentina
Frente Patria GrandeArgentina
Frente Popular Dario SantillanArgentina
Fundación Grupo Efecto PositivoArgentina
INPADE / FOCOArgentina
Missionaries of Francisco MovementArgentina
Resumen LatinoamericanoArgentina
Vamos- Frente Patria GrandeArgentina
Anders HandelnAustria
Attac AustriaAustria
Austrian Federal Chamber of Labour/AK EuropaAustria
Climate Alliance AustriaAustria
Coordination office of the Austrian episcopal conference for international development and mission (KOO)Austria
DKA AustriaAustria
Grüne Bildungswerkstatt NÖAustria
Grupo Encuentro Austria Argentina – GEAAAustria
Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika (IGLA)Austria
International Fellowship of Reconciliation AustriaAustria
Jahoda -Bauer InstitutAustria
NeSoVe / Network Social ResponsibilityAustria
ÖBV-Via Campesina AustriaAustria
Parents For Future ViennaAustria
proge UnionAustria
Selbstbesteuerungsgruppe Bischof KräutlerAustria
ELABasque Country
Mugarik GabeBasque Country
TRADENERBasque Country
Commission Justice et PaixBelgium
Broederlijk DelenBelgium
Commission Justice et PaixBelgium
Entraide et Fraternité Belgium
FIAN BelgiumBelgium
FIAN BelgiumBelgium
Fundación SolónBolivia
Centar za zivotnu sredinu/ Friends of the Earth Bosnia and HerzegovinaBosnia and Herzegovina
Justiça nos TrilhosBrazil
Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MABBrazil
AMAU (Articulação Metropolitana de Agricultura Urbana e Periurbana) Brazil
Associação Alternativa TerrazulBrazil
Asssociação para Recuperação e Conservação do Ambiente – ARCABrazil
Campanha Antipetroleira “Nem um poço a mais!”Brazil
Caritas Arquidiocesana de BrasíliaBrazil
Central Única dos Trabalhadores – CUTBrazil
Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Seguridade Social da CUTBrazil
Convívio Slow Food ParahybaBrazil
FASE – Solidariedade e EducaçãoBrazil
Fasubra sindicalBrazil
Federação das Organizações Indígenas do Rio Negro – FOIRNBrazil
Federação Nacional dos Enfermeiros Brazil
Fórum da Amazônia Oriental – FAORBrazil
Fórum Mudanças Climáticas E Justiça SocialBrazil
Friends of the Earth BrazilBrazil
Grupo sementeBrazil
INESC – Instituto de Estúdios SocioeconômicosBrazil
İnstituto EQUİT – Gênero, Economia e Cidadania GlobalBrazil
Instituto Floresta de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento SustentávelBrazil
Fórum Mudanças Climáticas E Justiça SocialBrazil
Jubileu Sul BrasilBrazil
Justiça GlobalBrazil
Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra – MSTBrazil
Movimento Urbano de Agroecologia – MUDABrazil
OLMA – Observatório Nacional de Justiça Socioambiental Luciano Mendes de AlmeidaBrazil
Operação Amazônia NativaBrazil
REBRİP- Rede Brasileira pela İntegração dos PovosBrazil
Rede Jubileu SulBrazil
Slow Food BrasilBrazil
Tribunal PopulrBrazil
Za Zemiata – Friends of the Earth BulgariaBulgaria
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine – CDHALCanada – Organitzacions per a la Justícia GlobalCatalunya
Plataforma Chile mejor sin TLCChile
Coordinación social y política Marcha Patriótica Colombia
Marcha PatrioticaColombia
Proceso de Comunidades NegrasColombia
Zelena akcija / Friends of the Earth CroatiaCroatia
Friends of the Earth CyprusCyprus
Ekumenicka akademieCzech Republic
Global AktionDenmark
NOAH – Friends of the EarthDenmark
Verdens SkoveDenmark
Oficina de Derechos de la NauralezaEcuador
Colectiva Feminista para el Desarrollo LocalEl Salvador
Fundación de e Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho -FESPADEl Salvador
Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho -FESPAD-El Salvador
Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern IrelandEngland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Estonian Forest Aid (Eesti Metsa Abiks)Estonia
Estonian Society for Nature ConservationEstonia
Friends of the Earth FinlandFinland
Friends of the LandlessFinland
TTIP Network FinlandFinland
ActionAid FranceFrance
alofa tuvaluFrance
AMAR BrasilFrance
Attac FranceFrance
collectif anti ogm 66France
Collectif Causse Méjean – Gaz de Schiste NON !France
Collectif Stop TAFTA / CETAFrance
Comité Pauvreté et PolitiqueFrance
Commitee in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples of the Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan)France
Confederation paysanneFrance
Confédération Paysanne TarnFrance
Emmaüs InternationalFrance
FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights)France
France Amerique LatineFrance
France Nature EnvironnementFrance
LDH pays RochefortaisFrance
Le Lien 26France
Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France)France
Les Amis du Monde DiplomatiqueFrance
Les Amis du Mouvement des Sans Terre France
Parents For Future FranceFrance
Réseau européen pour la Démocratie au Brésil (
réseau RooseveltFrance
Radio LatinaFrance
Bizi!France / Basque country
AG Recife e.V.Germany
Agrar KoordinationGermany
Agrecol e.V.Germany
Andy Gheorghiu ConsultingGermany
ARA e.V.Germany
Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL)Germany
Attac GermanyGermany
Bischöfliches Hilfswerk MISEREORGermany
Brasiliengruppe TübingenGermany
Brasilieninitiative Freiburg e.V.Germany
Brasiliennetzwerk NiedersachsenGermany
Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND) / Friends of the Earth GermanyGermany
BUND LaichingenGermany
Coordination gegen BAYER-GefahrenGermany
DEAB e.V.Germany
Die AnStifterGermany
Die AnStifter StuttgartGermany
Dona Flor e.V.Germany
Eine-Welt-Verein Pachamama StuttgartGermany
Elternseminar StuttgartGermany
Erich Fromm Institute TuebingenGermany
FDCL – Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America Germany
FIAN DeutschlandGermany
Forum Ökologie & PapierGermany
GegenStrömung – CounterCurrentGermany
German NGO Forum on Environment and Development Germany
Health and Environment Justice Support InternationalGermany
Informationsbüro Nicaragua e.V.Germany
Initiative kikuna e.V. – Zukunft Nachhaltig GestaltenGermany
just human e.V.Germany
Kaite-ZIM e. V.Germany
Kölner Bündnis für gerechten WelthandelGermany
Kolumbienkampagne BerlinGermany
Kooperation Brasilien e.V.Germany
Lernen im AufbruchGermany
mediation and project management agrobiodiversityGermany
mediation and project management agrobiodiversityGermany
Naturfreunde Württemberg e.V.Germany
Naturschutzbund DeutschlandGermany
Netzwerk Gerechter WelthandelGermany
Parents For Future BensheimGermany
Parents for Future FreiburgGermany
Parents for Future StuttgartGermany
People for Future FrankfurtGermany
POEMA – Armut und Umwelt in AmazonienGermany
PowerShift e.V.Germany
Save Our SeedsGermany
Society for Threatened PeoplesGermany
Stiftung Solidarische Welt – Berta KühnleGermany
Verein für eine gerechte Welt e.V.Germany
WEED – World Economy, Ecology & DevelopmentGermany
Welthaus FürthGermany
Weltladen RottenburgGermany
Weltladen-Dachverband e.V.Germany
Women Engage for a Common FutureGermany
Wuppertaler Aktionsbündnis gegen TTIP und andere FreihandelsfallenGermany
Parents for Future Dortmund Germany
Consumer association for quality of life- ekpizoGreece
Asociación Comunitaria para el Desarrollo ASERJUSGuatemala
Comité de Unidad CampesinaGuatemala
consejo de investigaciones en desarrolloGuatemala
Servicios Jurídicos y Sociales, S.C.Guatemala
Observatorio Sociolaboral y del Diálogo Social Ecuador Ecuador
Plateforme Haïtienne de Plaidoyer pour un Développement AlternatifHaití
Clean Air Action GroupHungary
Magyar Természetvédők Szövetsége (Friends of the Earth Hungary)Hungary
My Right To Breathe India
An Claíomh GlasIreland
forest friends irelandIreland
Guarani-Kaiowa Solidarity IrelandIreland
Irish Cattle & Sheep Farmers’ Association Ireland
Latin America Solidarity CentreIreland
Leave No Trace IrelandIreland
Peoples Movement – Gluaiseacht an PhobailIreland
Radio LatinaIreland
Stop Ceta Alliance Ireland
Fair watchItaly
Parents For Future – Turin Italy
Stop TTIP ItaliaItaly
ASTM (Action Solidarité Tiers Monde)Luxembourg
Bio-Lëtzebuerg asblLuxembourg
Mouvement EcologiqueLuxembourg
natur&ëmwelt a.s.b.l.Luxembourg
Nature Trust – FEE MaltaMalta
Red Mexicana de Acción frente al libre ComercioMexico
Federacion por la Autodeterminacion de los Pueblos Indigenas – FAPIParaguay
Derecho Ambiente y Recursos Naturales DARPeru
Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH)Peru
La JuntaPeru
Movimiento Nacional de Mujeres Todas Somos MicaelaPeru
Red Peruana por una Globalización con Equidad – RedGEPeru
Red Peruana por una Globalización con Equidad RedGEPeru
Federación de Trabajadores del Agua Potable del Perú – FENTAP- Peru
Institute of Global Responsibility (IGO)Poland
Associação de Combate à Precariedade – Precários InflexíveisPortugal
Circo de SonhoPortugal
Corporations- Zero TolerancePortugal
Glocal FaroPortugal
Glocal FaroPortugal
Mafra sem GlifosatoPortugal
MAPA – Movimento de Acção PolíticaPortugal
Palombar – Associação de Conservação da Natureza e do Património RuralPortugal
Parents For Future PortugalPortugal
plataforma algarve livre de petroleoPortugal
plataforma algarve livre de petroleoPortugal
Porto Sem OGMPortugal
Quercus, Associação Nacional de Conservação da NaturezaPortugal
SOS Racismo PortugalPortugal
Teachers for FuturePortugal
TROCA- Plataforma por um Comércio Internacional JustoPortugal
ZERO – Association for the Sustainability of the Earth SystemPortugal
Friends of the Siberian ForestsRussia
Slow food SalvadorSalvador
Amigas de la TierraSpain
Amigos de la TierraSpain
ASiA- Associació Salut i AgroecologiaSpain
Attac SpainSpain
Campanya Catalunya No als TCISpain
Col.lectiu AgudellsSpain
DES DE BAIX (Asociación para el debate y la Acción Ciudadana) Spain
Ecologistas en AcciónSpain
Ecologistes en Acció CatalunyaSpain
Economistas sin FronterasSpain
Enginyeria Sense FronteresSpain
Iniciativa Cambio Personal Justicia GlobalSpain
ISCOD – Instituto Sindical de Cooperación al desarrollo de UGTSpain
Marxa Mundial de Dones-CatalunyaSpain
Observatorio de Multinacionales en América Latina – Paz con DignidadSpain
Podemos CentroSpain
SETEM CatalunyaSpain
FIAN SwedenSweden
FIAN Sweden Sweden
Jordens VannerSweden
Latinamerikagrupperna // Solidaridad Suecia-América Latina (SAL)Sweden
Parents For Future SwedenSweden
Bruno Manser FundSwitzerland
Centre for Developmet and Environment, University of BernSwitzerland
Pro Natura / Friends of the Earth SwitzerlandSwitzerland
ArisaThe Netherlands
Both ENDSThe Netherlands
Commons NetworkThe Netherlands
La Chispa, digitaal platform over Latijns AmerikaThe Netherlands
Milieudefensie – Friends of the Earth NetherlandsThe Netherlands
Platform Aarde Boer ConsumentThe Netherlands
Platform Duurzame en Solidaire EconomieThe Netherlands
SOMOThe Netherlands
Transnational InstituteThe Netherlands
VrijschriftThe Netherlands
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom dutch sectionThe Netherlands
Banana LinkUnited Kingdom
CORE CoalitionUnited Kingdom
EcoNexusUnited Kingdom
Farms not FactoriesUnited Kingdom
Global Justice NowUnited Kingdom
Globalizations journalUnited Kingdom
Health and Trade NetworkUnited Kingdom
Health and Trade NetworkUnited Kingdom
London Mining NetworkUnited Kingdom
Parents For Future UKUnited Kingdom
Traidcraft ExchangeUnited Kingdom
War on WantUnited Kingdom
Rethinking Value Chains United Kingdom / France
Forest Peoples ProgrammeUnited Kingdom and the Netherlands
REDES-Amigos del Tierra (FoE) UruguayUruguay
Mighty EarthUSA

Photo credit : CIFOR – Mato Grosso, Brazil / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0