A group of 68 members of the European Parliament sent a letter to Vice President Hamilton Mourão and the National Council on the Legal Amazon, which he coordinated, complaining about plans to restrict NGO activities in the region.
Thursday (26) text considers “very worrying” news about the setting of stricter limits and rules for the performance of civil society organizations.
“The approval process for NGOs is already well regulated under Brazilian law. For many decades, several NGOs in Brazil have implemented programs and measures to combat environmental crimes, protect the Amazon rainforest and ensure the survival of their people, while at the same time promoting sustainable development in the region, ”the letter said.
The first to sign is the German MEP Anna Cavazzini from the Greens, who is also Vice-President of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Brazil. The other authors belong to left-wing or environmentally conscious parties on the continent.
The letter was motivated by a report in the newspaper “O Estado de S. Paulo” in early November that the Council was discussing the creation of a legal framework for the activities of NGOs that could restrict their activities. Mourão said he was unaware of this proposal, although he was coordinating the agency.
The letter states that NGOs in the Amazon region generally work closely with the federal and state governments. “NGOs are not there to replace the government, but to complement its measures – and to make a decisive contribution to making public policy more transparent and effective through free criticism.”
According to MPs, the allegedly ongoing plan threatens to attack the independence of NGOs and encourage “undue restrictions on the space in which civil society operates”.
The demonstration comes at a time when the war of words between Jair Bolsonaro’s government and European leaders is intensifying. Last week the president threatened to publish a list of countries on the continent that are illegally buying timber harvested from the Amazon, but he backed off.
Since the beginning of his government, Bolsonaro has made critical statements to NGOs that he believes are hindering the development of the Amazon region. There have been several attempts to create rules for the functioning of these units in addition to threats to curtail international funding.
The European Parliament has been very critical of Brazilian environmental policy and could block the trade agreement signed by Mercosur with the European Union last year due to the destruction of the forest.
In the letter, MPs continue to mention the increase in fires. “At a time when the Amazon is burning at record speeds, restricting the operation of environmental and social groups and organizations can have devastating consequences,” the document said.
Accordingly, the number of sources of fire discovered in the Amazon region in the first ten months of 2020 was 25% higher than in the same period in recent years.
“In this context, we would like to express our full support to NGOs that work to protect the Amazon. Maintaining your independence and your full scope of activity is of vital importance for our shared climate and environment, ”concludes the letter.