French President Emmanuel Macron has clearly rejected the planned free trade agreement between the European Union and the South American economic alliance Mercosur in its current form. “As it stands now, it is a very bad agreement. This agreement was negotiated 20 years ago. That is not what we want,” he said on Wednesday (local time) during a visit to the Brazilian economic metropolis of São Paulo.

“Let us negotiate a new, more responsible agreement that is based on our goals and reality and takes into account development, climate and biodiversity.” Brazilian Vice President Geraldo Alckmin and Economy Minister Fernando Haddad, on the other hand, had previously promoted the free trade agreement in principle.

Macron is one of the harshest critics of the treaty in the EU. Above all, he criticizes the fact that European farmers and companies have to adhere to strict guidelines to reduce carbon emissions, while in the future tariffs will be lifted on products from South America that are not manufactured according to the same rules.

The agreement between the EU and the Mercosur alliance with its member states Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay would create one of the world’s largest free trade areas with more than 700 million inhabitants. Above all, it is intended to reduce tariffs and thus stimulate trade. However, the fully negotiated agreement has been on hold since 2019. The treaty is controversial in both South America and Europe. Some countries want to protect their markets, others fear that labor and environmental standards will be weakened.