European Parliament - Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar’s Question & Answer: Situation in Venezuela — Mercosur agreement

 9 May 2016 - Cláudia Monteiro de Aguiar – [E-003833-16] - Subject: Situation in Venezuela — Mercosur agreement:

Given that:

— In 1995 EU and Mercosur signed an inter-regional cooperation agreement. The EU is Mercosur's most important trading partner, accounting for 20% of Mercosur's total trade in 2013. Venezuela has been a member of Mercosur since 2012.

— The EU is in the process of negotiating a trade agreement with Mercosur, covering not only agricultural and industrial products but also services and public procurement, intellectual property rules, customs aspects and other barriers to trade.

— Venezuela finds itself in a critical period, with a severely weakened economy — and the attendant worsening of its people's living conditions — energy rationing, reduced working hours for civil servants, changes in the time zone, scarcity of food and other essential goods and growing social unrest.

1. Can the Commission say how instability in Venezuela could affect these ongoing negotiations with the Mercosur countries?

2. Does the Commission intend to take action to improve trade relations with Latin America, in particular by entering into bilateral agreements rather than moving towards an overall agreement with Mercosur?

Answer given by Ms Malmström on behalf of the Commission (8 July 2016):

«The daily deterioration of the security and socioeconomic situation in Venezuela is followed by the Commission with concern. The EU continues to urge all political actors to work together to overcome the increasing political tensions and find productive solutions for the people of Venezuela.

Venezuela has been a full member of Mercosur since 2012. However, Venezuela is still not fully participating in the external trade agenda of Mercosur and, more particularly, is not party to the trade negotiations between the EU and Mercosur. According to reports by the pro-tempore Presidency, the Free Trade Agreement negotiations may continue to be chaired by Uruguay on the Mercosur side for the rest of 2016, while Venezuela assumes the pro-tempore Presidency of Mercosur for the second semester of the year.

As regards the format of the negotiations, the European Union is fully committed to this process with Mercosur.».