Brussels, October 15th - Green campaign groups have today condemned the EU for its position in the latest environmental WTO dispute - about Europe dumping its used and retreaded tyres on Brazil. Brazil tried to ban the import of used tyres because they act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes, but the EU complained to the WTO about the ban. Today, the WTO body that settles disputes is holding a hearing with both parties in Geneva.
Charly Poppe, Trade Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "The EU's aggression in this dispute is yet another example of European incoherence and double standards: we do not want unhealthy products at home, but we do not care about dumping them on poorer countries."
The outcome of the hearing today will influence the final ruling of the WTO judges, expected in early December this year. The final ruling will create a critical precedent for future conflicts between trade and environmental interests.
"The EU must back down in its attack on Brazil's environmental regulation. By putting narrow commercial interests above environmental concerns now, the EU will also compromise its own ability to protect life, health, and the environment in the future - it is really shooting itself in the foot," Mr Poppe added.
The dispute started when the EU filed a complaint in early 2006 against Brazil's ban on the import of used and retreaded tyres. Brazil has argued that because waste tyres were breeding grounds for mosquitoes, an import ban was necessary to protect humans and animals from mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria and dengue fever.
A WTO Panel (internal tribunal) has already produced a report on the case on 12th June 2007 accepting Brazil's environmental and health defence. But on 4th September, the EU appealed the ruling, claiming that the ban was discriminatory and in breach of WTO rules.
"The EU always claims to be the champion in environmental protection. With regard to the tyres case this claim is pure hypocrisy: to support the interests of European exporters the EU saddles the Brazilian people and environment with a very high risk of health damage and pollution," said Juergen Maier, Director of the German NGO Forum on Environment and Development.
On 11 October 2007, a coalition of environmental and civil society groups from Brazil and Europe sent an amicus curiae brief ('friends of the court' - a third party submission to the case) to the parties of the dispute. The brief argues that WTO rules should be interpreted in a way that reconciles both trade and environmental concerns. 
 Amicus Curiae Brief to the Appellate Body in Brazil - Measures Affecting Imports of Retreaded Tyres, 11 October 2007:
By ACPO, APROMAC, CEDHA, CIEL, Conectas Direitos Humanos, Friends of the Earth Europe, German NGO Forum on Environment and Development, Justia Global, Instituto O Direito por Um Planeta Verde