Brazil and the EU: Partnering on Security and Human Rights?

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GR:EEN Policy Brief 7
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Both Brazil and the European Union (EU) are ‘actors in transition’. The question is whether their fluid position in a changing international environment will make them closer or more distant partners on political and security issues. Despite a recent slowdown, after a decade of economic growth and social progress Brazil is now a large, self-confident power with a growing global projection. For the past few years, Brazil has been pursuing a multi-vectoral strategy of ‘insertion’ into global markets and leading governance clubs, leveraging its multiple identities as a traditional representative of the South (G77), a pragmatic trade power in the new Quad, an economic powerhouse in the G20 and a vocal emerging power in the IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) formats.

After decades of sustained growth and political integration based on the values of democracy and human rights, the economic crisis has affected the EU’s international reputation and has pushed it into a soul-searching phase. The EU has been seeking to reposition itself in a polycentric international system where its traditional weight in setting the global agenda is increasingly contested. Europeans have been slow to respond to mounting pressure to address their (over)representation in major international fora. However, at the same time, the EU and its member states have sought to engage emerging powers such as Brazil at different levels, including via mini-lateral formats such as the G20 and the establishment of bilateral strategic partnerships.