On the financial and economic crisis, the fight against climate change and energy security, the EU will be stronger with Brazil on its side. Indeed, Brazil is the tenth biggest world power and this year's leader of the G20, made up of the seven big industrial nations and the leading emerging economies. Over and above a mere updating of a strategic partnership launched last year, the aim of the second EU-Brazil summit, held on 22 December 2008 in Rio de Janeiro (following on from Lisbon in 2007, under the Portuguese EU Presidency), was clear: to confirm their "very large convergence of views" so as to add to their clout at the G20 summit, on 2 April in London. Following on from the first summit, in mid-November in Washington, the London meeting will aim to relaunch the global economy.

"One of the world's great countries," exclaimed French President Nicolas Sarkozy, describing the summit host country. "Who could conceive today of solving the world's problems without Brazil," he declared in an interview with the Sao Paulo newspaper, the Folha, on the eve of his meeting with his Brazilian opposite number, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in which European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also took part.


This was Sarkozy's last summit as president of the EU Council before handing over the reins to the Czechs, on 1 January. "We decided, with President Lula, to use our influence to get things to change and to change deeply. We decided to bring our positions closer together and to go to London with a shared vision of the future role of the IMF [International Monetary Fund], the system of financial institutions," he commented, adding that the EU and Brazil would "work relentlessly" from now to 2 April.

"No government project will be paralysed by this crisis," said President Lula, who added that Brazil's growth would be 4% in 2009, compared with the 3.2% announced the same day by the country's central bank.

For the first materialisation of this convergence, the two parties agreed to prepare a joint initiative in the World Trade Organisation, announced President Sarkozy. It is in the interests of the Brazilians - who are big producers of ethanol from sugar cane - for the Doha Round trade liberalisation talks to resume in 2009, after their failure in July (see Europolitics 3644 and 3634). "We cannot adjourn trade liberalisation," insisted Lula.

The crisis is no excuse, declared Barroso. On the contrary, it is "essential to...

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