chapter  11
The EU and Brazil in a changing world: strategic partners or competitors?
Pages 16

Introduction Since the bipolar world came to an end, the European Union (EU) has been seeking a global strategy on Latin America (LA). From the outset, Europe’s strategy has been notable for its steady support for regional groups in LA, resulting in the development of interregional relations like those established with the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), set up in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and enlarged since 2012 to include Venezuela. Nonetheless, over the last few years, the EU has been looking to intensify individual relations with states and to form links with so-called ‘emerging’ powers, with which it is eager to sign ‘strategic’ partnerships. This strategy has an impact on the EU’s relationship with LA. Indeed, the European Commission communication of December 2005 proposes to encourage relations with countries that are viewed as ‘key States’ in LA. In July 2007, this approach led to the ‘Strategic Partnership’ (SP) with Brazil and the development of a selective political dialogue with that country. Yet this raises a specific question. After so many years trying to develop regional bloc-to-bloc relations with Mercosur, why is the EU so interested in forging direct and regular relations with Brazil outside the interregional channel? In an attempt to answer that question, this chapter aims, first, to place the SP in context within the broader framework of the EU’s strategic diplomacy towards LA. Second, it identifies the factors that drove the EU to change its LA policy and set up a SP with Brazil. Third, it analyses the viability of this partnership by assessing the question of the EU’s strategic importance for Brazil and the question of the capacity of European and Brazilian actors to draw up a common agenda and thus to work hand in hand on major international political issues. The chapter also focuses on the effects of the Lisbon Treaty’s implementation on the diplomacy in this relationship.