S&Ds: Argentina 'debt deal' must pave way to renewed trade with EU based on full respect for democracy and human rights

The renewed impetus to pursue an EU-Mercosur trade and political agreement following the change of government in Argentina is very welcome, but must ensure high social and environmental standards and new efforts to combat corruption, said the Socialist and Democrat Group MEPs during today's European Parliament visit to Buenos Aires.

The EP delegation's visit comes to coincide with today's vote in the Argentinian Senate to agree a deal with 'holdout' creditors to finally end the 15 year legal dispute arising from the country's debt default, and to ease its path to attract international investment.

Richard Howitt MEP, the S&D Group Foreign Affairs Coordinator, and Francisco Assis MEP, the Chair of the Delegation for Relations with Mercosur, visited Buenos Aires on 29 and 30 March 2016 as part of a seven-member delegation from the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET).

The delegation met Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Vice-President of the Republic and President of the Senate Gabriela Michetti, Minister of Economy and Public Finance Alfonso Prat-Gay, Minister for Security Patricia Bullrich, Minister for Production Francisco Cabrera, and held meetings with parliamentary colleagues, civil society, trade unions and progressive political forces.

S&D MEP and Foreign Affairs Coordinator Richard Howitt stated:

"Latin America is an important partner for Europe at the international level to promote cooperation on issues ranging from tackling climate change, conflict-resolution and respect for human rights, so efforts by Argentina to fully re-engage with Europe and the international community should be very welcome.

"The S&D Group was pleased to hear commitments that the reforms to which Argentina has committed itself are intended to tackle poverty and pursue inclusive growth.

"We now need to see negotiations on a trade and political agreement with all the Mercosur countries, which incorporates high labour, social, environmental and human rights standards, so that there can be confidence on both sides of the Atlantic that extra economic prosperity will lead to social equity and full respect for fundamental rights and values.

"The vote on 'holdout' creditors ending legal cases pending in American courts must not lead to evidence of corruption, tax evasion and money laundering being buried and ignored, and we won assurances in our meetings that the evidence can and will be used to pursue anti-corruption cases in Argentina's domestic courts. We will be watching to see if those promises are realised."

The S&D Group also called for renewed commitment to the 'Parlasur' Parliament for the Mercosur countries, after hearing their members have been left without salaries and their expenses unpaid.

Portuguese S&D MEP Francisco Assis stated:

"The S&D Group is proud to hold the chair of the European Parliament delegation with Mercosur countries, and full respect for our Parlasur colleagues is an important part of reinvigorating democracy in Argentina and its partner countries.

"This week's visit has been intended to intensify inter-parliamentary dialogue, send a signal in favour of starting negotiations on an EU-Mercosur trade and political agreement and to pave the way for a full joint meeting with the Parlasur later this year."