Austrian MPs dealt a blow to the EU`s pioneering trade agreement with the South American economic bloc by calling for the government`s veto of the agreement. It is no small matter to conclude such a complicated agreement at a time when free trade is under attack around the world. Protectionism is clearly increasing – with Brexit and the trade war between China and the United States. The EU and the South American economic bloc, Mercosur, have reached a huge trade agreement after 20 years of negotiations. The total population of the two regions means that the agreement would have a population of 780 million.  This is Mercosur`s largest free trade agreement since the bloc`s launch in 1991.  It is also the largest EU trade agreement to date on tariff reductions.  Dinaman Tuxa, an indigenous leader, said: “Agreements like this only increase the level of violence against indigenous peoples. We must tell the EU that the signing of this free trade agreement could lead to genocide in Brazil. If they sign this agreement, the blood will flow.  Since Mr. Trump`s election, the EU has also concluded trade agreements with Canada, Mexico and Japan. The increasing use of protectionist measures by national heads of state and government would have encouraged the resumption of talks in 2016.
 The EU can hope that the agreement is a major break in this global revival of protectionism.  European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called the agreement the approval of “rules-based trade” at a time of increasing protectionism.  Mercosur could hope to use the agreement as a model for future business in the future.  Mercosur`s presidents have already stated that they want to conclude trade agreements with Canada and EFTA.  Argentine President Mauricio Macri said the agreement with the EU was “not a point of arrival, but a starting point”. The Austrian confederation of trade unions, the GB, had cried out against the agreement and had argued that it had not sought to establish binding rules for workers and the environment, but had focused on the interests of the industry and not on people. The scope of the agreement is very broad.  In addition to tariffs, it includes rules of origin, trade aid, health and plant health measures (SPS), technical barriers to trade (OTC), services and investment liberalization, competition policy, subsidies, state-owned enterprises (SOEs), trade and sustainable development. It also includes better access to public procurement and intellectual property rights, including “geographic indications” or protection of regional food specialties.  Legal safeguards are in place to protect 357 European food and beverage products from counterfeiting, including Prosciutto di Parma and Herve Cheese.  Customs procedures will also be simplified as part of the agreement.
 The draft free trade agreement lasted 20 years and the EU has described it as its largest to date. The agreement was denounced by European cattle farmers, environmental activists and indigenous human rights activists.   There have been protests against the agreement.   Governments and parliaments of EU member states have also criticised the agreement. In October 2020, the European Parliament  and EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis  declared that the EU-Mercosur agreement “cannot be adopted in its current form”.