Señor ministro [de Asuntos Exteriores de Brasil, Carlos Alberto Franco França], señor secretario general [de Relaciones Exteriores, Fernando Simas Magalhães], thank you very much for your warm welcome. Thank you to the Minister and also to the whole team of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – and in particular to the Secretary General [of Foreign Affairs] Mr [Fernando Simas] Magalhães.
Last time that a High Representative of the European Union came to Brazil was nine years ago. Too long. Way too long. Nine years without a high-level visit at the diplomatic level shows that we, Europeans, have not been taking care enough of the importance that Brazil has as a big geopolitical player.
I am very happy to be here. I was here fifteen years ago as President of the European Parliament and now I am coming back in my capacity of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and I came to reaffirm the strategic importance that we, in the European Union, attach to our relations with Latin America in general and with Brazil in particular.
Brazil is a strategic partner for the European Union. Why so? In fact, we have been long strategic partners since 2007 across all political areas. We are Brazil’s second largest trading partner. Brazil is actually the single biggest exporter of agricultural and food products to the European Union. We are the biggest investor in Brazil. And Brazil is the largest and most important market for the European Union in Latin America.
Brazil, like the European Union, is a key actor, both regionally and at the global level. Yes, we have a solid relationship with frequent dialogues and extensive cooperation in more than 30 different policy areas: from human rights to non-proliferation, to drugs and multilateralism. But I am strongly convinced – and that is why I chose Brazil as my first country to be visited, together with Peru, in this travel to Latin America – because there is a strong potential to do more, much more.
We face digital transformation, green recovery, science, innovation, urban development, renewable energy – where Brazil is a giant – security, cybersecurity, defence and trade. On all that, our potential is much bigger than our current reality. So, I am happy to sign this memorandum of understanding on international cooperation. It will allow us to join forces and protect partner countries to project ourselves in the world, to contribute to the Agenda 2030 matching intentions and concrete actions, also with third countries.
This morning I had the opportunity to discuss with Minister França frankly and openly. We will continue discussing on economic and trade issues – including, certainly, the European Union-Mercosur Association Agreement -, on climate and environment issues, the post-COVID-19 recovery and regional issues like Venezuela or Afghanistan.
On the European Union-Mercosur Agreement, I want to use this opportunity to express that the European Union remains fully committed to this Agreement. This Agreement will be a game changer, economically and geopolitically. Beyond the economic benefits that it will have for both sides, it would strengthen our long partnership with the region as we move to a green transition, and it will help us build responsible and sustainable value chains. The ratification and the implementation of this Agreement would contribute to a better world and a much better relationship between us. I think that it is very important for the business community. I had the opportunity yesterday night in São Paulo, with the Chambers of Commerce and the European Union Member States, to confirm the highlighted profile and the big support to this Agreement from the business community.
I want also to welcome and strongly encourage Brazil to follow up on the commitments that Brazil made this year, including the most recent one in the COP26, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, which is exactly the same purpose that we have in the European Union. We share the same level of ambition. Also, the commitment of finishing with illegal deforestation by 2028, promoting forest protection and achieve a significant 50% greenhouse gas reduction by 2030, which is also the same level of ambition of the European Union. I am also thrilled that Brazil will co-sponsor our Global Methane Pledge, which is a key issue in the fight against climate change.
These elements will be crucial for the successful conclusion of the Mercosur Agreement, and we are working together with our Mercosur partners to provide the necessary clarification on our shared commitment in this area. A strong commitment on sustainable development will offer the best means for us to focus our efforts in tackling the negative effects of climate change and to share prosperity through economic cooperation.
Certainly, deforestation remains a challenge as the largest source of emissions in Brazil, and the European Union firmly hopes that Brazil will show the maximum level of ambition in this area. As the country hosting most of the world green lungs, the Amazon, we count on your commitment. The world needs your action and we are ready to continue supporting concrete, ambitious and verifiable actions. The world cannot live up to this climate ambition without the European Union and without Brazil.
We talked also about economic recovery after the pandemic, the support that the European Union is providing to Latin America, the strong capacity that Brazil has been proving in order to develop a pharmaceutical industry. I have been comparing the rates of vaccination in Brazil and Europe and I can say that all together, considering the two doses, you are not very far away from the average of the European Union. We will continue supporting with actions, resources, grants, emergency relief to contain the pandemic and its different implications here and around the world.
Minister, there are a lot of things we have been talking about today. On Venezuela, just to pick one example. I commended the solidarity shown by the Brazilian people and the Brazilian authorities with the Venezuelan migrants and refugees. The Brazilian ‘Operation Welcome’ is a recognised example of solidarity. I am looking forward to learning more about it today. And we are also looking forward to work together in order to help the Venezuelan people to get again a democratic system that can ensure their freedom and prosperity.
Minster, Secretary General, thank you very much for your warm welcome. Muchas gracias. I think that today is a new step. After nine years of absence, Europe is back in Brazil to strengthen our links and to work together for a better future.