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Staffan Nilsson`s opening speech at the 7th EU-Brazil Civil Society Round Table

In February last year,  Mrs Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, talking about EU-Brazil relations said that this is a relationship that is important, but she didn’t think that the EU had made it as important as it ought to be. We support the need to go deeper in our relations with Brazil. And here’s the evidence: we are again meeting today, keeping up the regular pace of our exchanges, willing to produce joint work that will be useful also to our political leaders.

So we will send the result of this Round Table to Mrs Ashton, and to the Brazilian authorities, as we always do, in order to provide a civil society contribution to her important work. And we are doing it right in time for the next EU-Brazil Summit that will take place in Brasília in two days from now.

When I talked to Minister Moreira Franco in Santiago de Chile last month, we agreed that we would work on previous commitments and on some new work.

Previous commitments mean jointly assessing Rio+20: What happened there? What we have to say now? How do we want to proceed with our joint work? We could focus on the sustainable development goals, in particular as the EESC is right now starting to work on this subject. But we could also look into sustainable development in relation to green economy and the Millennium Development Goals. Our work with you in this Round Table is part of that programme and I will be telling you more about this in our specific Rio+20 working session this afternoon. For the moment, I would like just to express my deep satisfaction on the large-scale mobilisation of organised civil society in Rio de Janeiro, which made the conference last summer a unique experience in terms of participation.

We will start with new work tomorrow: on both sides we are very much interested in the various aspects of mobility: mobility of workers and people, mobility of capital, services, knowledge, technology, innovation... because these issues affect directly companies, migrant workers, tourists, investors, small and medium sized enterprises, and last but not least, the civil society organisations. The issue of mobility from an economic and social point of view will be examined in depth tomorrow morning. Also, we will have a preliminary debate on the specific question of mobility of knowledge, in anticipation of the work of our next round table meeting in Brazil in the second part of this year.

We will also discuss today the economic, social and political situation both in Brazil and in the EU. Not that this is a separate issue as regards the rest of our programme – quite the contrary. The current situation, as you all know, can still be summarised in a single word: crisis. More precisely, a global multidimensional crisis, which extends to the economic, social and political level, and a crisis which affects not only developed countries. A long term solution to it will inevitably require more and better growth and jobs but also greater fairness between people in different regions and countries as regards the distribution of wealth, access to goods and services,  environmental and social standards, respect for human rights and social rights as well as the access to food and water. The current economic crisis has to become an opportunity to build a new development model.

Brazil, much as the EU, has to be at the forefront of these efforts. But we need more Brazil, if you allow me to put it this way. The EU’s economy is nearly stagnant, but Brazil has also had a growth well below what was expected last year. Investments are falling, exports are low, and analysts say that the Brazilian economy depends too much on domestic demand. Of course, one year is too short a period to assess the economic situation of any country, and moreover, expectations for 2013 are better. But you probably agree that more investment and more trade would be beneficial for Brazil. Such efforts should be seen in a successful conclusion of the negotiations on an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, on which we all have so high expectations. A huge amount of good will is still needed on both sides if we want these negotiations to succeed…and we, as civil society, do want it.

We need Brazil to be an open partner not only in economic terms. For instance, we need Brazil and the EU to cooperate in facilitating the conditions of migrant workers, especially the young and skilled ones. The EU should do its share in order to achieve a social protection agreement with Brazil. Other areas of people mobility should see more cooperation from both sides, on issues such as visas, tourism, air transport, education, scientific, and technological knowledge. We will discuss all this tomorrow.

For the moment, I just want to underline that mobility is an essential part of globalisation, and the Strategic Partnership between Brazil and the EU has to be an important factor in it. Although not in any kind of globalisation but in a new and sustainable one.

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The EESC President`s opening speech at the 7th EU- Brazil Round Table