Brazil was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the, at the time, European Economic Community, in 1960. Since then, the bilateral relationship has undergone several changes, despite always keeping its high profile in the context of Brazilian foreign policy. With the signature of the Strategic Partnership, in 2007, Brazil-EU bilateral relations have reached new heights. Opportunities for dialogue on global challenges and opportunities for bilateral or bi-regional interests (MERCOSUR and CELAC with the EU) have broadened with the Partnership, which has contributed to deepen political relations, dynamize economic ties and diversify initiatives for cooperation.
Relations at the strategic level require intense dialogue and systematic consultations, which occur through a series of meetings between representatives of the Brazilian Government and EU bodies. In addition to the Annual Summits, at presidential level, there are regular meetings among senior officials, experts and technicians. Given the diversity of topics addressed by the Strategic Partnership, there are more than 30 sectoral dialogues in progress in areas such as peace and security, trade, investments, regulations, services, energy, information society, sustainable development, climate change, education and culture. The Bilateral Joint Commission, established in 1992, is responsible for coordinating the broad bilateral agenda. There are also regular meetings between civilian and business sector representatives, which contribute to bring together Brazilian and European societies and to discuss ideas on how to explore new opportunities and overcome challenges.
At the political level, Brazil and the EU recognize each other as actors in an international multipolar system in transformation, sharing, in addition, the commitment to strengthen multilateralism, with the understanding that this is the most effective mechanism to achieve peace and cooperation worldwide. The EU is an important interlocutor for Brazil, for example, in matters related to the strengthening and reforming of the multilateral institutions and their decision-making processes, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. The appreciation of democratic institutions and the respect for human rights are also fundamental principles of the Strategic Partnership.
Economic and trade relations are of immense importance to both sides. Between 2003 and 2013, trade has more than tripled. The EU, taken as a block, is, today, Brazil's main trading partner. The EU has one of the most important stocks of investments in Brazil, which has, in turn, become a major source of foreign direct investment in the EU (the 5th largest). The already dynamic economic relations have great potential for further expansion: beyond the prospects to increase trade, especially with the expectation of concluding negotiations on trade agreements between MERCOSUR and the EU, reciprocal investments are expected to continue to expand.
The cooperation agenda is equally intense. In the field of education, about half of the scholarship holders of the Program "Science Without Borders", from undergraduate to post-doctorate, in the priority areas of the Program, have chosen the EU as a destination. In the field of science and technology, Brazil and the EU cooperate closely in research and joint investments in areas such as biofuels and information technology. As home to major research centers, the EU is a key partner in projects of technology and innovation, which may contribute to a qualitative leap in Brazilian development.
Brazil and the EU have also sought to advance in the development of structures which will broaden the scope of cooperation, such as trilateral cooperation. This modality complements South-South cooperation, which is a priority of Brazilian foreign policy, since it promotes the exchange of experiences on how to deal with common challenges to developing countries.
The latest EU-Brazil Summit (Brussels, February 24, 2014), the 7th held, contributed, among other things, to the negotiations of the MERCOSUR-EU bi-regional Association Agreement by renewing the willingness of the parties, at the highest political level, to reach an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced agreement. It should be highlighted, moreover, that the discussions on Internet governance, a subject in which Brazil and the EU have identified a convergence of position – in favor of the multisectoral, democratic and transparent governance model, and the understanding that information and communication technologies may be a powerful tool for development.
Chronology of Bilateral Relations
1960 – Establishment of diplomatic relations between Brazil and the European Community
1992 – Signature of the Interinstitutional Cooperation Agreement between the Common Market Council and the European Commission
1995 – European Community – Mercosur Framework Cooperation Agreement
2004 – Agreement for Scientific and Technological Cooperation between Brazil and the European Union
2006 – Visit of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, to Brazil
2007 – First European Union-Brazil Summit. Establishment of the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership
2007 – First EU-Brazil Joint Action Plan (2008-2011)
2008 – Visit of the President of the Council of the European Union, Nicolas Sarkozy, and of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, to Brazil. Second EU-Brazil Summit
2009 – Visit of President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva to Stockholm (Sweden held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at the time). Third EU-Brazil Summit
2010 – Visit of the President of the European Council, Hernan Van Rompuy, and of the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durão Barroso, to Brazil. Fourth EU-Brazil Summit
2011 – Visit of President Dilma Rousseff to Brussels (headquarters of the European Council). Fifth EU-Brazil Summit
2011 – Second EU-Brazil Joint Action Plan (2012-2014)
2013 – Visit of President Dilma Rousseff to Santiago, on occasion of the 1nd Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the European Union (EU-CELAC Summit) (January 26 – 27)
2017 – Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira meets the Vice-President of the European Commission for Jobs, Growth and Investment, Jyrki Katainen, with the European Comissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, with the President of the European Parlament, Antonio Tajani, and with the High Representative Vice President, Federica Mogherini (August 29 and 30)