Better policy cooperation in higher education and culture will be the main focus of an official visit to Brazil next week (3-9 April) by Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
The Commissioner, who is making her first official visit to the country, will meet Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota, Minister of Education Fernando Haddad and Minister of Culture Ana Buarque de Hollanda in Brasilia. Her programme will also include high-level meetings in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador. The main objective is to launch EU-Brazil policy dialogues on higher education and culture. The discussions will also feed into the next EU-Brazil summit, due to take place in Brussels in October.
"The European Union is committed to strengthening its strategic partnership with Brazil and I believe that closer cooperation on higher education and culture can contribute to this objective," said Commissioner Vassiliou ahead of her visit.
Her meetings in Brasilia with Ministers Buarque de Hollanda (Monday) and Haddad (Tuesday) formally mark the launch of policy dialogues which will lead to the creation of specific fora for policy-makers and professionals, focused on jointly agreed priorities in higher education and culture.
As regards higher education, the Commission wants to make it easier for students and academics to move between the EU and Brazil for study and work, and to encourage cooperation between universities. This is seen as crucial for driving quality and fostering excellence in a competitive international environment.
Since 2004, more than 1 700 Brazilian students and scholars have had the opportunity to study and work in Europe through the Commission's Erasmus Mundus programme, which supports joint Master and Doctorate programmes. More than 40 Brazilian research institutions and 32 individual researchers have also received financial backing totalling € 1.6 million through the Commission's Marie Curie Actions, which support international exchanges for researchers.
On culture, the new policy dialogue will aim to boost the development of stronger cultural and economic ties, as well as the preservation of cultural heritage. Commissioner Vassiliou will meet representatives of the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC) in Brasilia, while in Rio (6-7 April) she will visit the National Arts Foundation (FUNARTE) and National Cinema Agency (ANCINE). The latter could benefit from support through the Commission's MEDIA Mundus programme which aims to encourage international cooperation in the cinema industry (see IP/11/143).
On the final day of her visit (8 April), Commissioner Vassiliou will see the historical centre of Salvador, which has received €200 000 for restoration work from the EU Culture programme, and an EU funded social project in the field of education and culture.
The visit will also highlight EU-backed youth and sport projects, with an educational and social dimension. Whilst in Rio (6-7 April), for instance, the Commissioner will visit the "Citizenship for Sports" scheme run by the Real Madrid Foundation. This provides sports and education opportunities aimed at instilling positive values in teenage boys and girls from under-privileged backgrounds.
Funding for culture and youth In the field of culture, the Commission has invested more € 1.3 million in Brazil since 2008 through seven joint initiatives under the EU Culture Programme. They include an Italian/Spanish/German/Brazilian cultural heritage cooperation project with the Universidade Católica do Salvador da Bahia. This project contributed to the preservation of the historical centre of Salvador, which has been a UNESCO world heritage site since 1985.
The EU has also supported more than 50 projects involving more than 760 young people and youth workers from Brazil over the past four years through the Youth in Action programme. These include transnational volunteering projects, large-scale youth events and conferences.
The Commissioner's visit comes as the European Union and Brazil analyse progress in the context of their 2009-2011 Joint Action Plan and prepare for their joint Summit in October. At the meeting a new Action Plan should be adopted in which higher education and culture are expected to feature prominently.
To find out more
-Read the full press release (IP/11/392, 1st April 2011)
-European External Action Service: EU relations with Brazil