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KAS / Maximilian Hedrich

Country Reports

The world is looking for Brazil

Why Europe would do well to meet Brazil on an equal footing

Brazil is preparing for the G20 summit in Rio de Janeiro in November. Now the ninth largest economy in the world, Brazil is a key partner for Germany and Europe, is aware of this role and is acting in an emphatically self-confident manner. Relations between Brazil and Germany, as well as Europe, can look back on a long and positive history. Nevertheless, it is hard to shake off the feeling that the two sides have grown apart or become estranged. It remains to be hoped that European voices are right and that the strategic association agreement between the South American economic bloc Mercosul and the EU is not "dead" after all.

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President Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores) labour party dedicated his first year in office to reviving the partially frozen diplomatic relations with important partners worldwide. The year 2024 follows on from the previous one without a breather. The G20 foreign ministers met in Rio de Janeiro at the end of February, followed by the finance ministers in São Paulo and numerous delegations from politics and business. Most recently, French President Emmanuel Macron paid a media-effective visit to President Lula.

As in his first two terms in office between 2003 and 2010, President Lula's current foreign policy aims to strengthen a multilateral world order, South-South cooperation and Brazil's leading role in Latin America. The motto of Brazil's G20 presidency "Building a just world and a sustainable planet" and the three associated thematic priorities of sustainable development, reforming global governance structures and combating inequality underpin this direction of Brazilian foreign policy.

However, his discourse is currently much more anti-Western than before. Lula regularly criticises the political arrogance of "Western" states and interference in Brazilian affairs, but often remains very vague when criticising clearly authoritarian regimes, such as in the cases of Nicaragua or Iran. The fact that Brazil would not be an easy partner under President Lula either was something that many countries in the so-called "West" realised fairly soon after his inauguration. Furthermore, Lula's lack of a critical stance towards the regime in neighbouring Venezuela caused a lack of understanding among European and Latin American partners: the exclusion of promising opposition candidates in the run-up to the upcoming presidential elections in Venezuela had provoked a great deal of international criticism. It was not until the end of March, when the new candidate of the opposition alliance was prevented from registering her candidacy, that an official statement was published by the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

Despite all the current hurdles, misunderstandings and challenges, it is clear that Brazil and Europe are closely connected. Europe would do well to seek and develop global solutions together with international partners such as Brazil on an equal footing. Brazil is the only country in Latin America with which Germany has had a strategic partnership since 2008 and has already held official bilateral government consultations twice, most recently in December 2023. However, it is now up to both sides to bring the highly praised and historically and culturally founded relationship into the 21st century, to develop it further and fill it with life and to swiftly implement the political declarations of intent agreed in Berlin in December 2023. 

The full-lenght publication is only available in German.

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Maximilian Hedrich

Maximilian Hedrich bild

Director KAS office Brazil +55 21 2220 5441 +55 21 2220 5448


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