Delegation of the European Union
to the International Organisations in Vienna

Brazil and the EU

11/05/2016 - 15:08
EU relations with Country

The European Union (EU) and Brazil have a long-standing relationship covering areas such as political cooperation, the economy, trade, investment, climate change and the Mercosur integration process.

Brazil and the EU share a long-standing relationship based on strong cultural and historical ties. In fact, Brazil was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the EU. In the 1960s, the two parties exchanged formal diplomatic Missions.

In 2007, the EU recognised Brazil as one of its key global partners through the establishment of the formal EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership.

This partnership covers a range of issues including:

  • climate change
  • sustainable energy
  • the fight against poverty
  • the Mercosur integration process
  • stability and prosperity in Latin America.

Summits provide progress

The new partnership was launched at the 1st EU-Brazil Summit held in Lisbon in 2007.

These summit meetings are organised on an annual basis and have proved to be effective in strengthening political dialogue and cooperation between the two sides.

To date, regular dialogues have been set up in over 15 areas such as: political issues and human rights; environment and climate change; culture and education; maritime and air transport; energy; and science and technology. 

Important developments in recent summits include:

  • The adoption of a Joint Action Plan during the 2nd EU-Brazil Summit in Rio in 2008. The Action Plan is carried out through cooperation between government institutions on policy issues that underpin mutual cooperation.
  • The 3rd EU-Brazil Summit held in Stockholm in 2009 focused on climate change and helped to coordinate positions ahead of the Copenhagen Climate Summit. 
  • The dialogue on climate change continued at the 4th EU-Brazil Summit held in Brasilia in 2010. Other global issues of common interest were discussed, such as the economic and financial crisis, the resumption of EU-Mercosur negotiations and implementation of the EU-Brazil Action Plan.
  • The 5th EU-Brazil Summit took place in Brussels in 2011. Among the issues discussed were the continuing economic and social effects of the financial crisis.
  • The 6th EU-Brazil Summit was held in Brasilia in 2013. Topics discussed included progress on the EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership and the Joint Action Plan 2012-2014, the state of the respective economies and the current issues in the world economy.

Also up for debate in 2013 was a dialogue on agriculture and a summit between the EU and heads of the Latin American/Caribbean countries (the EU-LAC Summit).

Economic relations between the EU and Brazil developed through the summit process. For example, economic issues and financial regulation were high on the agenda of the 2nd EU-Brazil summit.

Meanwhile, the 5th Summit tackled issues such as employment and the social dimensions of globalisation as well as growth opportunities in the emerging green economy.

Among other achievements, the 2013 EU-LAC Summit saw the signing of letters of intent between the EU and Brazil relating to:

  • encouraging tourism and increasing visitor numbers;
  • a Joint Programme on Culture which in part focuses on developing the creative economy and related industries;
  • a €500 million loan agreement for the green energy sector


Brazil and the EU are significant trading partners.

  • Brazil’s trade with the EU accounts for 33.6 % of the EU’s total trade with the Latin American region (2014);
  • Brazil holds 55 % of the entire EU investment stock in the region (2013);
  • The EU is Brazil’s number one trading partner, accounting for 19.5 % of its total trade (2014);
  • Brazil is the EU’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 2.0 % of total EU trade (2014);
  • Brazil is the single biggest exporter of agricultural products to the EU.

EU imports from Brazil are dominated by primary products, especially: agricultural goods, fuels and mining products. Nevertheless, manufactured goods are also important and include: machinery, transport equipment and other consumer products.

EU exports to Brazil are mainly manufactured products such as machinery, transport equipment and chemicals.

The EU is also the biggest foreign investor in Brazil. About 50 % of foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into Brazil comes from the EU.


Brazil’s import restrictions

According to the EU, Brazil is a G-20 country that has the highest number of new, potentially restrictive trade measures. As a result, the EU is encouraging Brazil to:

  • reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers;
  • maintain stable rules and regulations for European investors and traders.

Brazil and Mercosur

Brazil is a member of Mercosur, the South American trading bloc. The EU is negotiating an Association Agreement — including a free trade area — with this regional body.

The agreement should provide a boost to regional trade integration among Mercosur members. It should also increase trade and investment opportunities with the EU through the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers.

The EU Delegation’s Trade Section

The Trade Section monitors Brazil’s trade policies. It also represents the EU locally in trade-related matters. The team works closely with the Brazilian government, as well as representatives from industry and civil society. The aim is to explain EU trade policy and report on any new developments.

Useful links for trade, investment and business

ELAN European and Latin American Business Services:

The allocation of funding for cooperation and development is mainly provided by means of grants to projects and programmes under several EU instruments including the:

The principal areas of cooperation therefore include: human rights, reducing poverty, environmental protection, climate change and energy, social and economic development, education, health, food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture — as well as migration and asylum.

In addition, two other EU initiatives which address global challenges are open to Brazil:

To access these resources, organisations must present proposals in the context of Calls for Proposals published by EuropeAid, the EU’s Executive Agency for Education and Culture or the European Delegation in Brazil.

Bilateral Cooperation

Between 2007 and 2013, the EU and Brazil worked together in Sector Dialogues and promoted academic cooperation between European and Brazilian higher education institutions.

From 2014 onwards, EU funding was no longer allocated to bilateral development cooperation. However, activities under the sector dialogues and through academic cooperation continue via support from other instruments.

Regional Cooperation

For 2014 to 2020, the EU has made €805 million available for regional cooperation with Latin America:

Brazil has a rich civil society sector that plays a relevant role in the consolidation of participative democracy and social control of public policies, building new alternatives for the promotion of sustainable development, poverty reduction and good governance. The EU therefore focuses on supporting actions to strengthen these organisations, ensuring their meaningful and structured participation in domestic and international policies and increasing their capacity as key actors of development processes.

The new thematic 'Brazil Civil Society Support Programme' aims at reinforcing capacities of civil society's organisations (CSOs) and their contribution to sustainable development.

Furthermore, the EU's involvement with CSOs, through grants allocated under the 'European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights' and other thematic programmes, has had positive impacts as they have contributed to raising awareness about specific matters like human rights, gender, indigenous people and consciousness on various social topics such as children living with hearing impairments, and promoting the equal rights of the LGBTI community in the country.

In September 2012, the European Commission adopted the Communication 'The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe's engagement with civil society in external relations'. The new policy orientations propose an enhanced and more strategic engagement with CSOs in partner countries, with a particular focus on local CSOs. It also calls for a more strategic approach at country level for the EU and its countries through the development of EU Roadmaps for engagement with civil society in each specific country.

The 'EU country roadmap for engagement with civil society' covers the period 2014-2017 and has been compiled through an extensive consultation process led by the EU Delegation, in collaboration with the EU countries and CSOs. The purpose of the Roadmap is to establish a common strategic framework for the EU Delegation and the EU countries with a view to improving the impact, predictability and visibility of EU action.

During the period covered by the EU Roadmap, the EU Delegation will continue its support to increase the capacity of CSOs in their vital role as development actors by promoting an enabling environment for CSOs and their constructive participation in public policies.

The EU and Brazil are jointly engaged in addressing issues relating to information and communication technologies (ICTs).

An EU-Brazil Information Society Dialogue, held in 2012, agreed a €10 million call for proposals to fund ICT projects of common interest. The two parties also shared their experience and knowledge of policy and regulatory issues in areas such as broadband development, governance and internet security, cloud computing and digital content.

The importance of cooperation with Brazil in this field comes from the following factors:

  • the growing influence of the Information Society and ICT in everyday life;
  • the increasing globalisation of the ICT sector and the leading role played by Brazil in Latin America’s digital economy;
  • Brazil’s rising importance regarding issues of strategic importance for the EU such as internet governance and information networks and security.

EU Information Society research

The EU promotes international cooperation in science and technology through its Horizon 2020 framework programme. This programme runs from 2014 to 2020 and has a budget of €80 billion.

Horizon 2020 therefore provides the EU and Brazil with the opportunity to build on what is already a fruitful area of collaboration. Brazil was in the top five non-European countries in terms of active participation in the EU’s previous framework programme for science and technology (FP7).

The final declaration of the 6th EU-Brazil Summit, held in 2014, highlighted the fact that competitiveness, innovation and economic growth cannot be achieved without strengthening cooperation in science and technology.

It was noted that much progress has been made in recent years, particularly in key areas such as:

  • sea science
  • food security
  • nutrition
  • sustainable agriculture and bio-economy
  • energy
  • nanotechnologies and
  • information and communication technologies (ICTs).

All agreements signed between the EU and Brazil can be accessed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: DCTEC — Division of Science and Technology.


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