José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso after the EU-Brazil Summit
24 January 2013
I should to like to thank President Rousseff for hosting this sixth summit between the EU and Brazil in Brasilia. And for welcoming us here at the Presidential Palace, one of the great works of that embodiment of Brazilian culture that was Oscar Niemeyer, who recently passed away, and to whom I would like to publicly render homage for his contribution to world architecture and culture.
The last time we held a summit was in Brussels in 2011, when we reaffirmed the importance of our political and economic ties and also inaugurated that great cultural event, Europalia Brazil. And I can tell you, Madam President, that Europeans now know a lot about Cavalcanti, Portinari and Tarsila do Amaral, not just Neymar.
And it is that Brazil, the Brazil of culture, the Brazil bubbling with creativity, that we admire and with which we want to expand and strengthen our relations.
Just yesterday I visited Inhotim in Minas Gerais, and I discovered for myself just how much creativity, vigour and extraordinary dynamism this country possesses; our summit today reflected exactly this willingness to become even closer partners in this relationship which is so important to us Europeans, and also, we believe, to Brazil.
That is why I should like to highlight how satisfied I am with the progress made in relations between the European Union and Brazil since our decision in July 2007 to launch the EU Brazil Strategic Partnership.
The dynamics of the Strategic Partnership, as well as nourishing contacts in the technical and political spheres, have also built up the mutual trust that today enables us to address all issues in a very constructive, open manner, always seeking to make real progress.
Brazil’s economic and political development in recent years has been extraordinary. With a GDP that is half that of South America and 70% that of Mercosul, Brazil is becoming one of the great global economic powers. And our mutual commitment to strengthening our relations has grown at the same rate. United by history and culture, we share the same values. Not just history, but a common destiny. As Machado de Assis reminded us, in life what counts is not the moment that has passed but the moment to come.
The global economy presents us with great challenges. Both the European Union and Brazil have a lot to do, especially in terms of competitiveness. We both need greater international cooperation. We need cooperation within the G20 and the global system in general in order to return to the path of fair and sustainable growth. For we saw in the past that some forms of growth were not sustainable. And we are concerned about the injustice underlying many economic relations.
Perhaps the most important aspect of today’s meeting, in my view, was that we reaffirmed our commitment to conclude an association agreement between the EU and Mercosul. A comprehensive, balanced and ambitious agreement. We believe that our regions can reap significant economic and political benefits from such an agreement, which, by embracing 750 million people, would be the most extensive in the world.
Implementing such an agreement would generate more trade, new investments, technology transfers and many other benefits for our citizens and businesses.
We therefore hope to see significant progress in this process. We went into the issues in quite some detail. There will be a ministerial meeting in Santiago (Chile), but what was important was the high priority that Brazil and the Union placed on this EU Mercosul agreement. I should also like to thank Brazilian and European businessmen, because I have been following your work and know how important this agreement is to you as well.
There was also an important practical decision today at our summit: the setting-up of a bilateral ad hoc committee to evaluate the potential of EU Brazil economic relations, particularly in terms of investment. It is a pragmatic way of looking at what we can do to underpin still further the already important economic bonds between Brazil and the European Union.
The truth is that, despite all the difficulties, the EU remains the world’s largest trading bloc and the largest internal market in terms of value. Indeed, despite the international crisis, our economic and trade relations have not stopped growing – EU Brazil trade increased by 17% in 2011. The EU is the principal destination for Brazilian exports (21%) and is one of the main sources of its imports (22%). The EU is also the foremost direct foreign investor in Brazil, with 40% of total FDI. And Brazil is becoming one of the leading investors in Europe, already standing in fifth place.
There are also many points of complementarity, the potential of which further underlines the advantages of strengthening relations.
I think that our economies could become even more competitive.
That is why I want to reiterate our determination to further advance our cooperation in areas such as science, technology and innovation, and education. These issues are central to the development strategies of Brazil and the European Union. They are crucial for our investment in our human capital. I know full well how committed President Rousseff is to these issues. Today we signed an agreement between the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) that will enable about 100 Brazilian postdoctoral and senior researchers to be hosted at the facilities of the JRC.
We are working hard too on the issue of the mobility of students and researchers. President Rousseff has already referred to the figures, which I will not repeat.
We also want to move forward with the signing of a comprehensive agreement between the EU and Brazil in the field of civil aviation. We talked at today's meeting about common global challenges, such as climate change, human rights, global trade and international security.
On the issues of sustainable development and climate change our cooperation has been very good. In Durban and in Doha we showed that by working closely together we can drive the agenda and set ambitious objectives. I hope that Brazil and the European Union continue to work together assiduously with the aim of achieving a globally binding commitment on climate change by 2015.
Ensuring sustainable development and eradicating poverty will remain two of the most pressing challenges.
Last June I was in Rio de Janeiro to attend the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development. Again I salute the role that Brazil and its President, Dilma Rousseff, played in organizing this conference. The results of the conference provide a set of common priorities and a roadmap for further work. It is now up to us to turn them into reality and to work together on this very important sustainable development agenda.
To conclude, I should like to thank President Rousseff for this extremely productive summit. I am sure that today we have taken another step forward in building the strategic complicity that - I hope I may say - increasingly unites Brazil and the European Union. I should also like, if I may, to quote a person I really admired and had the honour of knowing personally, Oscar Niemeyer, who, when speaking of the architectural potential of Brazil, said something that we can also apply to our bilateral relations, namely ‘we are free to create today the past of tomorrow’.