EUROPE must not to conclude its trade deal with South America's Mercosur countries until they agree to honour their environmental obligations – anything less will put EU farmers at an unfair disadvantage.

SNP Member of the European Parliament, Alyn Smith, has joined with other MEPs from across the member states to write to the European Commission urging it to make implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change a precondition for any country wanting to conclude a trade agreement with the European Union.

For several years now, the EU has been negotiating with the four founding Mercosur states – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – as part of a broader Association Agreement between the two regions. But authoritarian Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has recently threatened to withdraw his country from the Paris Agreement, prompting some MEPs to object to the deal progressing any further.

Mr Smith said: “I have a number of concerns about the impact of this deal on the beef sector in Scotland and across Europe. These concerns are shared by French President Emmanuel Macron, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Belgian PM Charles Michel and Polish PM Mateusz, who also wrote to the Commission expressing their concerns this week.

“After the success of the SNP in Scotland and of our Green Colleagues across Europe there has been a clear call to ensure that protecting the environment remains right at the centre of everything the EU does. If we expect Scotland’s farmers to live up their environmental obligations under the Paris Agreement it is only right to ask the same from their Mercosur counterparts as a condition of any trade deal," said Mr Smith.

“Obviously I will keep an open mind on what the deal could achieve and this is not my final say, but for now I do not see how it will be possible to deliver a good deal for Scotland’s farmers.”

The MEPs querying the Mercosur progress also highlighted several pesticides which are banned in the EU but which are 'massively applied' in the Mercosur countries, in particular in Brazil’s Mato Grosso region.

"Concluding an agreement with such a major player in agro-business would send a very negative signal to the European electorate," said the MEPs' letter. "This agreement will have a huge impact on environment, on climate change and of family farming on both sides, according to the official impact assessment prepared for the European Commission by the University of Manchester.

"Immediately after elections that have shown the tremendous concern of the European citizens on climate change issues and environment in general, the new Parliament has a strong mandate. A clear message was sent to the incoming Commission. Both need to analyse in depth the consequences of the proposals that are on the table. For all these reasons, we urge the European Commission not to conclude the Agreement at this point in time."