“If there’s a time to act, it’s now. Europe needs allies,” said Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, during the meeting between the leaders of Brazil and Spain in Madrid on Wednesday, pledging to work towards establishing a free trade agreement between Latin America and the EU this year.
“Some countries have their doubts, but I think we have a lot of common interests and could be stronger and more influential in the context of geopolitical change if Europe, the Caribbean and Latin America deepen their ties”, added Sanchez.
In July, Spain will assume the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, while Brazil will take on the presidency of the South American trade bloc Mercosur.
That same month, EU leaders will gather with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Brussels to discuss the free trade agreement. Sanchez is optimistic that the upcoming EU-CELAC summit, the first since 2015, will mark significant progress.
“With Pedro Sanchez, I think it’s possible to reach an agreement. We want this agreement. The moment is here, but we need consensus,” said Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva alongside his Spanish counterpart.
Lula also addressed various global issues, including the Ukraine conflict. “Brazil is back,” he declared, echoing sentiments from his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Lula condemned the Russian war on Ukraine but said he is working to establish peace negotiations between the two nations.
“Each party believes they’re right, but people are dying, and we need to halt the fighting and reach an agreement,” said Lula. “I’m going to keep trying to get this agreement, speaking with Putin, Zelenskyy, everyone to see if it’s possible to start negotiations.”
Lula added that he is also advocating for an overhaul of the UN Security Council, the creation of a “G-20 for peace,” and for the “BRICS bank” to become a major investment bank that surpasses the World Bank.
Regionally, he said he is trying to establish a single currency like the Euro for parts of Latin America.
Sanchez expressed his appreciation for Brazil’s renewed engagement in international affairs following years of absence under Jair Bolsonaro’s leadership.