EU bilateral relations with Mexico and Brazil

Both Mexico and Brazil have signed cultural programmes with the EU. The increasing importance given by the two countries to cultural cooperation with the EU has been visible since the deployment of the EU strategy to promote the UNESCO Convention. In the case of EU-Mexico relations, in particular, cultural cooperation was considered a priority over the 2007-2013 period (European Commission, 2007g).

Mexico is the largest economy in Latin America and one of the emerging powers in the region. It is a member of the North American free trade agreement (NAFTA) and of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and is one of the EU's historical allies. The origins of EU-Mexico relations date back to the late 1990s. The first step was taken with the Agreement on economic partnership, political coordination, and cooperation, signed on December 1997 (European

Community, 2000). This agreement, which came into force on 1 October 2000, defines the essential elements of the EU-Mexico bilateral relationship. It covers political dialogue, economic cooperation and trade, with the establishment of a free trade area (FTA) for goods and services. The two parties share values and interests in various global and regional issues, among them multilateralism, the protection of the environment, and peace and stability in Latin America and the Caribbean (EU Embassy in Mexico, 2011).

According to the Commission '[c]ulture is one of the issues where Mexico and Europe perceive each other as equals and, therefore, the strategic potential for cooperation on this issue should not be undervalued' (European Commission, 2007g: 23). Since 2007, culture has been a new element in the EU-Mexico cooperation strategy. Whereas previously, in the 2002-2006 programming period, no funds were earmarked for cultural cooperation purposes, for the period 2007-2013, an indicative amount of €55 million was allocated to Mexico under the DCI, which inter alia concerned culture. More specifically, education and culture accounted for 25 percent of the allocated funds, while 40 percent went to social cohesion and support for other policy dialogues, and 35 percent to sustainable economy and competitiveness. These resources could be supplemented by projects and programmes financed under the EU Latin American regional programmes, and thematic programmes.

Culture is a priority area in bilateral cooperation with Mexico. Cooperation has mostly drawn on cultural funds. Cultural Fund I (2008-2010) supported artistic exchanges between the EU and Mexico within six Mexican cultural festivals and fostered the creation of spaces for discussion on the cultural policies and cultural industries of both parties. Cultural Fund II (2011-2013) sought to promote cultural cooperation and the institutional strengthening of Mexican cultural organisations. Its budget amounted to €5,600,000, of which the EU contribution was €2,800,000.4 In this second cycle of the fund, a new programme in performing arts was created, whereas some activities targeted specifically the publishing industry in relation to the Guadalajara International Book Fair. Besides, Mexico was selected in 2011 as the country for cooperation projects with third countries under the Culture Programme (2007-2013).5

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, both in terms of territory (8.5 million km2) and of population (an estimated 191 million inhabitants in 2010), and it is a key emerging world economic power. EU-Brazil relations are based on a Framework cooperation agreement signed in 1992, a science and technology cooperation agreement signed in 2004 and the EU-Mercosur framework cooperation agreement signed in 1995, aimed at creating the conditions for an interregional association between the EU and Mercosur.6 A Commission Communication entitled A stronger partnership between the European Union and Latin America (European Commission, 2005j), adopted in December 2005, highlighted the growing influence of Brazil. Two reasons were given for Brazil warranting special treatment: its prominent role in regional affairs and the fact that the EU had only the bare bones of a bilateral dialogue with Brazil with no political dimension. This was considered to be inappropriate in view of Brazil's rapid development as a global economic and political player.

The EU and Brazil have developed policy dialogue in the field of culture since 2009, when a Joint Declaration on culture was signed between the Commission and the Brazilian Ministry of Culture.7 This Joint Declaration paved the way for enhancing cooperation and the exchange of practices between the two partners on issues of common interest. The policy dialogue's objectives and priority areas were set out by the two partners and rely on the principles of the UNESCO Convention, to which both the EU and Brazil are parties.

Brazil participated in a Special Action under the EU Culture Programme in 2008. The supported projects were related to visual arts, cultural heritage and performing arts.8 In October 2011, a Joint Programme on Culture was agreed for the period 2011-2014 (Council, 2011b). Three priority areas were identified: the implementation of the UNESCO Convention; policies and instruments for the development of the cultural and creative economy and its industries; and cultural heritage and cooperation in the museum sector. In the context of the joint programme, the following joint events have been organised so far: a round-table discussion with Brazilian cultural personalities, which took place in October 2011 in Brussels, a conference on the cultural and creative economy, which was held in Brazil in June 2012 on the sidelines of the Rio+20 Summit, and a seminar on culture and sustainable development in May 2013 in Brasilia. Throughout the duration of the joint programme, both sides have agreed to exchange views and share experiences on cultural policy-making on an ad-hoc basis, as well as to foster exchanges and promote technical missions linked to cultural heritage, including cooperation between museums, expert seminars, studies and conferences.

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