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Brussels security has been called into question after five Greenpeace activists managed to scale the 14-storey facade of the Berlaymont building in the Belgian city to hang a 30-metre banner. The banner depicts a hole burned through the building, revealing the Amazon in flames, with the message “Amazon fires – Europe guilty”.
It has replaced the EU’s current banner to promote promoting the Union’s Next Generation recovery plan for the bloc’s economy crippled by the coronavirus crisis.
The activists also used smoke machines and fake ash to simulate the fires currently burning in the Amazon rainforest.
The protest was in response to the EU Commission’s decision to consider a new law to cut Europe’s contribution to deforestation.
Twitter users took to social media to hail the protest and said it proved Brussels security had “dropped the ball”.
One said: “#Greenpeace #Berlaymont Someone dropped the ball in the #security of the @EU_Commission”
Another said: “Yesterday the EU Commission building Berlaymont promised #nextgenerationeu
“Today it claims Europe to be guilty of Amazon fires.
“Greenpeace was busy this night. Now firefighters are busy thinking how to tear it down”
One posted: “Slightly different message on the Berlaymont today.”
Another added: “@greenpeace_be pulls off an amazing stunt at the European Commissions Berlaymont. Not a good day for the security..”
Sini Eräjää, Greenpeace EU agriculture and forest campaigner, said: “The Amazon fires might be far away, but Europe has added fuel to the flames.
“By buying meat, soy for animal feed and other products from deforested areas, Europe is complicit in the destruction of the Amazon and other ecosystems, driving climate breakdown and exposing us to dangerous diseases like Covid-19.
“Europeans should be able to do their shopping safe in the knowledge that nothing on the supermarket shelf is linked to forest destruction or human rights abuses – we need a strong EU law to ensure this.”
Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest worsened in the first week of September.
Brazil reported 8,373 fires in its portion of the Amazon rainforest for the first seven days of September, more than double the number of fires in the same period a year-ago, according to data from Brazil’s national space research agency Inpe.
A pressing concern is that 27 percent of the major fires so far in September has been in virgin forest, rather than in recently deforested areas or farmland where blazes are more contained.
And Brussels has long been under fire for pledging to strike another free-trade deal involving Brazil.
An EU deal with the Mercosur – the South American trade bloc made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – is in place and waiting for ratification.
But there are fears it will cause even more environmental damage to the Amazon rainforest.
The Berlaymont’s current banner promises the blocs initiative to “help repair the economic and social damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic, kick-start European recovery, and protect and create jobs, the European Commission is proposing a major recovery plan for Europe based on harnessing the full potential of the EU budget”.
Figures show the production, installation and removal of the banner cost €11,000 (£9,000) in 2015.
This is actually 20 percent cheaper than the average cost of €14,000 (£12,000) it had cost in previous years.
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