Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2012

The European Union and Brazil as Privileged Partners? Difficult Path to an Authentic Strategic Partnership

Bartłomiej . Znojek

January 2012

The Polish Institute of International Affairs


Following the creation of the EU-Brazil strategic partnership nearly five years ago, the density of contacts between the European Union and the largest Latin American country has grown steadily. However, while it looks impressive on paper given the potential of both sides, and seems like a no-brainer in the light of EU’s global ambitions and Brazil’s economic and political rise, including its status as a part of the BRICS forum, the relationship is not free from significant tensions. It is not entirely clear whether the seemingly unanimous endorsement of a multi-polar international order means the same for both partners. In addition, further deepening of the EU-Brazil partnership could have rather adverse effects on consolidating Mercosur, and EU dialogue with that bloc. It will be increasingly hard for the EU, adversely affected by the economic downturn, to gain real interest of Brazilian authorities in a truly strategic partnership, as they evidently see relations with other emerging countries as much more advantageous in carrying out own global ambitions. While the EU and Brazil will continue to consider each other as important partners, they need to carefully manage these and other incompatibilities of their relationship, lest they fail to fulfil its potential.