Lula victory revives EU trade hopes for Latin America
Lula hopes to quickly reach a trade agreement with the EU, but Brussels needs environmental commitments first.
As the EU exhaled a diplomatic sigh of relief over the victory of left-winger Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva in the second round of Brazil's presidential election, center-left European lawmaker Kathleen Van Brempt captured the mood in Brussels on Monday. “This is the result we were all hoping for.”
Brussels has lofty goals for the region. The trade flows of the European Union must be diversified away from those with Russia and, to a lesser extent, with China. The EU is eager to rekindle its relations with Brazil on climate change, deforestation, and trade as incumbent far-right Jair Bolsonaro prepares to leave office.
“I look forward to working with you to address pressing global challenges, from food security to trade and climate change,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted to Lula on Monday morning.
Congratulations, @LulaOficial, on your election as President of Brazil.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 31, 2022
I look forward to working with you to address pressing global challenges, from food security to trade and climate change.
However, Brussels might have to wait in line. Particularly now that relations between Beijing and Brasilia have deteriorated under Bolsonaro, Russia wants to trade and China will also be vying for influence in the region.
Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, expressed his country's desire to take its comprehensive strategic partnership with Brazil to a new level in response to Lula's victory on Monday.
To finally tie up the loose ends with the trade agreement between the EU and the Latin American Mercosur bloc, which is made up of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, would be the most practical way for the EU to get its foot in the door.
In addition to facilitating trade between the economies on both sides of the Atlantic, closer cooperation is essential for Brussels to rely less on China for its raw materials as it makes the transition to a greener economy.
The Mercosur pact was officially signed in 2019 but has since been put on hold, largely due to Bolsonaro's rabid destruction of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, which infuriated the EU.
The leadership of the European Union congratulated Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on his presidential election win Monday and expressed hopes of closer cooperation on trade and climate change.
"I look forward to working with you to address pressing global challenges, from food security to trade and climate change," Ursula von der Leyen told Lula, in a congratulatory tweet.
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, which represents the governments of EU member states, said Brazilian voters had chosen a change from the recent past.
"The EU is committed to cooperate on global challenges: peace and stability, prosperity, climate change. And we'll work with the whole region," Michel tweeted.
Congratulations to president elect @LulaOficial— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) October 31, 2022
Brazilians have chosen for change.
EU is committed to cooperate on global challenges: peace & stability, prosperity, climate change.
And we’ll work with the whole region.
I look forward to congratulating you in person soon.