Brussels, 16 April 2008
The European Commission today launched a new structured policy dialogue with Brazil on social policies. The two sides will share knowledge on legislation, policies and programmes so as to improve social cohesion. The agreement came in a Memorandum of Understanding, signed in Brussels today by EU Social Affairs Commissioner, Vladimír Špidla and the Brazilian Minister for Social Development and Fight against Hunger, Patrus Ananias.
"Social cohesion is a crucial challenge both for the EU and for Brazil," said Commissioner Špidla. "That's why we are placing it at the heart of our cooperation. I very much welcome the recent initiatives taken by Brazil on reforming social protection to better address its effects on poverty reduction and employment, and also the important redistributive efforts demonstrated, for example, by the Bolsa Familia Programme."
"By sharing successful ideas and practices we want to improve the lives of the most vulnerable groups in our societies," added Minister Ananias. "At the same time, the integrated approach to social cohesion in Europe shows that social policies are a positive investment contributing to the economic well-being of all citizens."
Today's Memorandum of Understanding sets up a structured policy dialogue between the European Commission and two Brazilian ministries: the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger and the Ministry for Social Security of Minister Luiz Marinho. It aims to strengthen and consolidate EU-Brazil relations by sharing knowledge of legislation, policies and programmes in the social sector as well as by exchange of best practice.
The dialogue covers social issues of common interest such as human and social development, poverty reduction, the human right to adequate food, socially inclusive labour markets, extending social protection coverage, equal opportunities, corporate social responsibility and social services. It will consist of regular exchanges of information, experience and best practice as well as exchange of views on topics of common interest.
The principle of launching a structured dialogue was agreed by Brazilian
President 'Lula' da Silva and Commission President Barroso when they met in July
2007. The Memorandum will be an important input to the EU-Brazil Action Plan,
which implements the strategic partnership between Europe and Brazil,
maintaining social cohesion at the heart of the cooperation. The parties will
now have to agree on a rolling work programme and priority themes.
 The Bolsa Familia Programme was put in place to guarantee the poorest families access to food, healthcare and education. About 11 million families benefit; in total 46 million people.