+++Read the statement here in Spanish+++

4 July 2022

The undersigned civil society organisations, trade unions, human rights, animal welfare and environmental defenders, address this statement to policy makers in Mexico and the European Union (EU) to call on them not to ratify the “modernised” EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement (EU-Mexico FTA). The text was negotiated behind the backs of citizens without debate or public consultation, and was finalised in April 2020, in the midst of one of the worst health, social and economic crises in the world, triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU-Mexico FTA has been in force for twenty years and far from fulfilling its promises, it has only generated serious social, economic and environmental harm, first and foremost for Mexico. The “modernised” agreement will only deepen those problems for the following reasons:

1. The agreement only protects foreign investors and jeopardises urgent changes in favour of climate, environment and people

The new agreement will have a new chapter on investment that aims to consolidate using  international arbitration as a mechanism for resolving disputes between investors and states. Worryingly, the proposed Investment Court System (ICS) does not address the worst parts of the classic investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. This means that EU investors will be able to sue Mexico (and vice versa) in a parallel justice system that prioritises their private interests, while environmental, social and general regulations take a back seat. In recent years, many of these lawsuits have been initiated by transnational investors to attack environmental measures and legislation. For example, in 2010-2013 the Spanish transnational Abengoa COFIDES sued Mexico after refusing to comply with environmental regulations, and obtained US$ 48 million in “compensation and lost profits”. With Mexico’s recent reforms on electricity and lithium mining, confirmed by the Supreme Court of Justice, some European transnationals, including Iberdrola, have already threatened Mexico with using the ISDS mechanism. Europe has also received several such lawsuits for approving climate policies, such as German energy giant RWE against the Netherlands over its plans to phase out coal by 2030. Signing the EU-Mexico FTA will lead to more such lawsuits on both sides of the Atlantic, compromising national budgets and delaying necessary changes in favour of climate, environment and welfare of people and animals.

2. The agreement will allow European corporations to continue violating human rights in Mexico with impunity

European companies have a long history of violating human and environmental rights in Mexico with almost total impunity. This will be reinforced with the modernised EU-Mexico FTA, as it still fails to provide effective regulatory mechanisms. Some examples of this situation can be found id: tariff abuses and the violation of the right of access to electricity, in the context of monopoly control by Iberdrola, Naturgy, Acciona Energía, Fisterra; or the violation of the right of access to water, and the arbitrary tariffs of Agsal-Suez (now Veolia) in Coahuila, Veracruz, Mexico City and Cancún. In the cases of the water bottling companies,  Bonafont/Danone are accountable for dispossession and devastation in the Choluteca Zone, where the resistance of the United Peoples is being criminalised and repressed. The new treaty will also deepen the impunity of European corporations involved in the construction of large-scale projects with serious socio-environmental impacts on the territory, such as the Morelos Integral Project (PIM), the mega wind farms, the Interoceanic Corridor in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, or the Mayan Train, among others. In these cases, either the right to prior, free, informed and culturally appropriate consultation and consent or refusal has been directly violated, or the implementation, which does not adhere to international standards, is generating major divisions and conflicts between communities. The “Agreement in Principle” of the “modernised” EU-Mexico FTA does not include binding clauses that reflect any willingness on the part of these corporations to respect human rights, nor does it allow those affected to have effective mechanisms for access to justice, reparations and non-repetition. The human rights clause in the EU-Mexico Global Agreement (contained in the EU-Mexico FTA) has never been activated, despite proposals to this end by civil society organisations and in the European Parliament itself.

3. The agreement does not allow for progress on women’s rights and gender equality

The modernised EU-Mexico FTA reinforces patriarchal patterns entrenched in Mexican and European societies. The treaty does not provide for any mechanism to end discrimination against women and LGBTIQ people, nor does it include inclusive “gender” language. In this sense, the agreement does not talk about the need to modernise and question male and female roles and their different social tasks. Furthermore, the few explicit clauses on women that existed in the old version of the treaty have been removed, namely Art. 36 mentioning low-income women and Art. 37 on the role of women in productive processes. The promotion of equal opportunities is now only mentioned when referring to ILO-approved labour standards, without mechanisms that can be monitored. The different chapters of the treaty will punish twice the majority of women who are poor. As workers, farmers or entrepreneurs, they risk being pushed out of the market by unequal competition from European corporations, especially in the dairy and meat industries. On the other hand, the extended public procurement chapter or the intellectual property protection chapter promotes an economic model that undermines public services such as health or access to affordable medicines. The predictable precariousness caused by the reprimarisation of the economic model will only reinforce a patriarchal model that will increase the already countless victims of gender-based violence.

4. The agreement attacks peasant agriculture and erodes food sovereignty

Free trade agreements such as the EU-Mexico FTA are directly linked to the global agro-industrial system, which has a devastating impact on the right to independent agriculture and trade, the right to food and health, while being one of the main causes of the climate crisis. In this context, the results are: an attack on peasant agriculture by privatising and land grabbing, expelling people, and triggering migration; subsidising the model of export monoculture exploiting slave labour, dependent on GMOs, agrochemicals, energy and water; or large-scale farms which have been at the origin of pandemics such as the A/H1N1 flu. Mexican and European agribusiness corporations will benefit from this model boosted by the EU-Mexico FTA. Currently, the German transnational corporations as Bayer-Monsanto continue to import GMOs and agrochemicals, headed by glyphosate. In doing so, they are reproducing the damage to health that affects 99% of French people. On the other hand, the European Union is pressuring Mexico to sign the 91 version of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). The mere acceptance of the entire UPOV system, in any of its versions, legitimises the privatisation of seeds and is a direct attack on independent peasant agriculture, i.e. on the pillar of food sovereignty. Farmers in Europe will also be affected by the increase in imports from Mexico.

5. The agreement impedes progress towards a more sustainable, decentralised and democratic energy system

The incorporation of a chapter on energy in the EU-Mexico FTA seeks to shield the privatisation of the sector, which was consolidated with the 2013 constitutional energy reform. This privatisation has had direct impacts on the population, such as higher electricity prices.  It has also consolidated the model of large-scale projects (both PPPs and private initiatives) for electricity generation, leading to the privatisation of communal lands, repression and aggression against affected populations, environmental impacts and corruption. Many European, and in particular Spanish, energy transnational corporations have interests in Mexico and are the main promoters of this treaty. Some of those include Ibedrola, Naturgy and Acciona (Spain), Enel (Italy) and Engie (France).

6. Procurement procurement and public services at risk

The “modernised” EU-Mexico FTA opens up public procurement for the first time to European corporations in Mexico and vice versa. This means that private interests will be put ahead of public interests, based on the assumption that what is good for investors is good for society. Such an assumption ignores the impacts of corporate interests on the polarisation of income and wealth, environmental deterioration and social degradation, and the commodification of culture and history. It also affects business development itself, to the detriment of micro and small producers and to the benefit of large transnational capital, both European and Mexican. Finally, it damages bi-continental social and solidarity practices, to the benefit of big capital, which has no flags. Development, both European and Mexican, must prioritise the legitimate conditions and aspirations of societies and not profit.

In conclusion, Mexico has become one of the world’s leading industrial paradises, that is, one of the most advanced laboratories for free trade and deregulation. The result has been unprecedented economic, social and environmental devastation, and a multiplicity of “sacrifice zones” or “environmental hells”, which continue to claim thousands of lives every year.  It should not be forgotten that many of these companies are also the main responsible for decades of privatisation and plunder of the public sector in Europe, jeopardising fundamental rights such as the right to housing, the right to food, the right to water and the right to energy.  

The EU-Mexico FTA is the triumph of European and Mexican transnational capital at the expense of the living conditions of the populations and environment on both sides of the Atlantic.

Based on the above, we are concerned that the context of the war in Europe is being used as an excuse to accelerate the ratification of the agreement, with the serious implications that this would have on the Mexican and European populations. For the future to be viable and sustainable, the trade policy model of the 21st century must put the well-being of communities, peoples and environmental first.

Therefore, European, Mexican, regional and international civil society organisations say NO to the EU-Mexico trade and investment agreement! And we demand our political leaders to oppose its ratification.

Endorsements:

  1. Aitec, France
  2. Alianza Sierra Madre A.C., Mexico
  3. Alofa Tuvalu, France
  4. alterNativa intercanvi amb pobles indígenes, Spain
  5. Aluna Minga e.V. , Germany
  6. Amis de la Terre, France
  7. Anders Handeln, Austria
  8. Asamblea de Defensores del Territorio Maya Múuch’ Xíinbal, Mexico
  9. Asamblea de Pueblos Indígenas del Istmo en defensa de la tierra y el territorio, Mexico
  10. Asociación por la Paz y los Derechos Humanos Taula per Mèxic, Spain
  11. Assemblea de Solidaritat amb Mèxic, Spain
  12. Associació Internacional de Solidaritat i Cooperació (SUDS), Spain
  13. Association of Ethical Shareholders, Germany
  14. Attac Austria, Austria
  15. Attac España, Spain
  16. Attac France, France
  17. Ayotzinapa por los derechos humanos en Mexico, Sweden
  18. Bizilur, Euskal Herria
  19. Both ENDS, The Netherlands
  20. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, International  
  21. CADTM France, France
  22. Caminando por la justicia Atitalaquia , Mexico
  23. Campanya Catalunya No als TCI, Spain
  24. Cátedra Jorge Alonso, Mexico
  25. CCFD-Terre Solidaire, France
  26. Centro de derechos humanos de los pueblos del Sur de Veracruz Bety Cariño A.C., Mexico
  27. Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano, Mexico
  28. Centro de Promoción y Educación Profesional “Vasco de Quiroga”, Mexico
  29. Centro Fray Julian Garcés Derechos Humanos y Desarrollo Local A.C., Mexico
  30. CETRI – Centre tricontinental, Belgium
  31. CICrA Justicia Ambiental, Spain
  32. CNCD-11.11.11, Belgium
  33. Coalicion de Extrabajadaoras y Trabajadoras de la Industria Electrónica Nacional (CETIEN), Mexico
  34. Colectivo Azul, Mexico
  35. Colectivo Comunitario de mejoramiento barrial de la Ciudad de México, Mexico
  36. Colectivo Raíz de Aguascalientes AC, Mexico
  37. Colectivo Xa’aybej, Mexico
  38. Collectif Alerte France Brésil / MD18 , France
  39. Collectif Stop CETA-Mercosur, France
  40. Comité de Derechos Humanos de la Sierra Norte de Veracruz, Mexico
  41. Comite de solidaridad con los Pueblos Indigenas de las Americas (CSIA-Nitassinan), France
  42. Committee for the Abolition of Illegitimate Debt (CADTM), International  
  43. Comunar AC, Mexico
  44. Confederation Paysanne, France
  45. Consejo Mexicano de Bienestar Social A.C., Mexico
  46. Consultoría Técnica Comunitaria,  A. C., Mexico
  47. Convocados por Lúdica, Argentina
  48. CooperAccio, Spain
  49. Coordinadora Socialista Revolucionaria (CSR), Mexico
  50. CRID, France
  51. Debt Observatory in Globalisation (ODG), Spain
  52. DECA Equipo Pueblo AC , Mexico
  53. Desmi, Mexico
  54. Ecologistas en Acción, Spain
  55. Ekologistak Martxan Euskal Herria, Euskal Herria
  56. Enginyeria sense Fronteres, Spain
  57. Enlace,  Comunicación y Capacitación A.C., Mexico
  58. Entrepueblos-Entrepobles-Entrepobos-Herriarte, Spain
  59. Espacio Estatal en Defensa del Maíz Nativo de Oaxaca, Mexico
  60. ETC Group, International  
  61. ETCO, Mexico
  62. Europe solidaire sans frontières (ESSF), France
  63. European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC), Europe
  64. Fairwatch, Italy
  65. FDCL – Forschungs- und Dokumentationszentrum Chile-Lateinamerika e.V., Germany
  66. Feria del Dulce, Mexico
  67. Fondation Danielle Mitterrand, France
  68. France Amérique Latine (FAL), France
  69. France Nature Environnement, France
  70. FSU, France
  71. Fundacion Para el Desarrollo Integral Apaxco , Mexico
  72. Gender Alliance for Development Centre, Albania
  73. Gender and Development in Practice (GADIP), Sweden
  74. Générations Futures, France
  75. GRAIN, International  
  76. Grupo de Agricultura Orgánica de La Ciénega, Mexico
  77. Grupo de Estudios Ambientales (GEA), Mexico
  78. Ila e.V.,  Bonn, Germany
  79. IM Swedish development partner, Sweden
  80. Iniciativas para el Desarrollo de la Mujer Oaxaqueña (IDEMO), Mexico
  81. Initiative Mexiko, Germany
  82. Lafede.cat – Organitzacions per a la Justícia Global, Spain
  83. Les Amis du Monde Diplomatique, France
  84. Ligue des droits de l’Homme – LDH, France
  85. Lurgatz Talde Feminista, Euskal Herria
  86. Novact – Instituto Internacional para la Acción Noviolenta, Spain
  87. Observatori DESC, Spain
  88. Observatorio de Multinacionales en América Latina (OMAL), Spain
  89. Oficina Ecuménica por la Paz y la Justicia e.V., Germany
  90. Organización Familia Pasta de Conchos, Mexico
  91. Otros Mundos AC/Chiapas, Mexico
  92. Partner Suedmexikos e.V., Germany
  93. Peace Brigades International, Mexico
  94. Permacultura ATTA, Spain
  95. Plataforma América Latina mejor sin TLC, Regional
  96. PowerShift , Germany
  97. Proceso de articulación de la Sierra de Santa Marta , Mexico
  98. Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos, Mexico
  99. Promotora por la Suspensión del Pago de la Deuda Pública (CADTM member), Mexico
  100.  Proyecto sobre Organización,  Desarrollo,  Educación e Investigación (PODER), Mexico
  101.  R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, Mexico
  102.  REAS Euskadi, Spain
  103.  Red en Defensa del Maíz, Mexico
  104.  Red europea de Comités Oscar Romero (SICSAL-Europa), Belgium
  105.  Red Mayense de Guardianas y Guardianes de Semillas, Mexico
  106.  Reds – Red de solidaridad para la transformación social, Spain
  107.  Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B), Europe
  108.  SETEM Catalunya, Spain
  109.  Solidarios de la Voz del Amate, Mexico
  110.  STEILAS Sindikatua, Euskal Herria
  111.  The Oakland Institute, United States
  112.  Tierra y Libertad para Arauco – Wallmapu, France
  113.  Transnational Institute (TNI), The Netherlands
  114.  Un Salto de Vida, Mexico
  115.  Unión de Comunidades Indígenas de la Zona Norte del Istmo de Tehuantepec , Mexico
  116.  Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez Oaxaca,  S. C., Mexico
  117.  Uno de Siete Migrando AC, Mexico
  118.  UYOOL CHE AC, Mexico
  119.  Védegylet Egyesület / Protect the Future  Association, Hungary
  120.  Women In Development Europe+ (WIDE+), Belgium
  121.  ZEB Württemberg Lutheran Church/Stuttgart, Germany