Commission chief was supposed to travel to Latin America as the EU and the Mercosur bloc enter the last stretch of talks to seal a trade deal.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Brazil and other Latin American countries slated to start on April 11 is on hold due to a scheduling issue, according to two diplomats.
New dates are being worked out, added the two diplomats, who asked to remain anonymous because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly.
Meanwhile, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has just rescheduled a planned trip to China and will now visit from April 11 to 15, according to Brazilian news portal G1. Lula had planned to visit Beijing late last month but that trip was delayed by a bout of pneumonia. Brazil and China recently signed some 20 private sector deals, and China is Brazil’s largest trading partner, ahead of the EU.
The agreement between Brussels and Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay was concluded back in 2019. But several EU countries including France, along with European lawmakers and environmental campaigners, pushed back against it due to deforestation in the Amazon as well as fears of a surge in agricultural imports.
The stretch of talks over the next months is expected to center around a legally-binding extra text to reinforce the deal’s climate conditions, with EU officials hoping to conclude talks by the time of an EU-Latin America summit being held in Brussels in mid-July.
Commission spokesperson Eric Mamer declined to comment on the matter because von der Leyen’s travel plans were never officially announced.