Sunday, October 13th 2013 – 12:14 UTC

Mercosur has many internal problems and therefore it is much easier to work with Brazil, said European Commission Vice-President for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani who spent this week two days of negotiations with top officials in Brasilia.

“Yes you have Mercosur which longs for trade agreements. But Mercosur has internal problems, and so then we can’t stop talking to Brazil which is a super important country, which grows, speaks European languages and for us to work with them is far much easier”, admitted Tajani.

“Many European companies are already operational in Brazil, and thus the country is not only important because of trade, but also manufacturing, tourism and small enterprises”, added the EC official.

Tajani held a full round of talks at different levels with different authorities ahead of a meeting scheduled for next February in Brussels between Brazil and the European Union.

Brazil is the EU largest trading partner in Latin America: in 2011 Brazil’s trade with the EU accounted for 37% of the EU total trade with the region, and 43% of all EU investments in Latin America went to Brazil.

Europe wants to privilege the standardization of technologies to make trade and investment even more fluid. In coming days an EU expert will be arriving in Brazil to assess these standards particularly regarding railways, auto industry and construction. Likewise Mercosur is preparing a joint proposal to present to the EU with the purpose of making possible the much delayed cooperation and trade agreement.

Brazil and Uruguay have already finalized their proposals and have held talks for a ‘fast track agreement with the EU’ while Argentina sort things out. The government of President Cristina Fernandez is behind because it has to agree on which products are ready to confront lower tariffs and competition, and which must be preserved from external competition. The so called Argentine policy of‘re-industrialization’ has been a great impediment to move faster in negotiations with the EC.

Next December Venezuela will be hosting the Mercosur summit and by then the South American group members should be ready for the exchange of proposals with EU, the second time this should happen in 15 years of negotiations.

EU and Brazil have set up a working group, established as a pragmatic way of looking at how to further underpin the important economic bonds between Brazil and the EU. The Group, chaired by Tajani, works in close liaison with the European Commissioner for Trade, Karel De Gucht, and the Commissioner for Research and Innovation, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.