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BRUSSELS: Growing farmer protests in Europe and opposition from France have hit prospects for an EU-South America trade deal under negotiation for nearly a quarter of a century, though Brussels insisted Tuesday it was still trying to get it over the line.

“The conditions required to conclude negotiations with Mercosur are not quite there yet,” acknowledged European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer.

But talks are continuing with the South American trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, he added.

Farmers across Europe — including in France, Poland, Germany and Belgium — have been blocking roads to demand better revenues and conditions.

While the farmers have a list of demands, many single out the South America deal. They fear it would further depress their produce prices amid increased competition from exporting nations that are not bound by strict and costly EU environmental laws.

The French government rejects the trade pact, French President Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed during a visit to Sweden on Tuesday.

“France is opposed to it because it’s a deal going back several years that doesn’t make Mercosur farmers and companies abide by the same rules as ours,” he said.

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