brando-benifeiThe Brazilian economic model deserves to be studied within the context of the comprehensive review of political-economic systems, explains the Italian MEP Brando Benifei (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats) in an interview to EUBrasil. One of the youngest MEPs of the current legislature, Benifei – also member of the Association – demonstrates strong interest for Brazil, talks about the problems of young people in the country and also on the EU and Brazil’s political position in Latin America.

EUBrasil: What are the reasons for your interest in Brazil, as well as the initiatives promoted by the Association EUBrasil?

Brando Benifei: The Brazilian economic model should be studied more carefully, since the country has the ability to combine an open market economy with public intervention elements and the presence of the Federal State. A comprehensive review imposed by the global crisis is not yet concluded and Europe is looking at how the ideas prevalent today, are under discussion. In this context, paying attention to a model like the Brazilian one might be very helpful. In addition, Brazil is the fifth largest country by geographical and demographic dimensions and the seventh world economy. Its features place it naturally in a prominent position in South America and at the same time, it does take an international role, putting it at the heart of many global processes. For this reason, I consider that following Brazilian developments today has a strategic significance, both in terms of reality and prospects. Developing and strengthening relations between the EU and Brazil – which is the focus of the EUBrasil Association – seems therefore crucial. Moreover, being an Italian MEP, it makes  even more sense to me to be interested in Brazil, given the historically deep relations between our two countries.

EUBrasil: You are one of the youngest MEPs of the current legislature. What is your policy consideration of the Brazilian youth of today and tomorrow?

Brando Benifei: Throughout my activity as a MEP, I have been dealing with youth issues, in particular youth unemployment, which the crisis in Europe increased to very worrying levels. In Brazil as well, youth issues hold great importance, first and foremost because of the large share of youth on the population, as compared to the ageing EU’s demographic structure. Yet, some of the problems faced by  today’s youth are identical, whether in Brazil or in the EU: the problem of unemployment, drug use and the growth of racism and discrimination. The educational problem has a key importance. I believe that more investment and the improvement of the education system are the main ways forward to resolve a number of social and economic challenges: helping many young people to get out of marginality and enabling social mobility processes. Of course, this has to go hand in hand with a policy action on the labor market as well as on the productive structure so as to create concrete and consistent opportunities for youth after completing education and training.

EUBrasil: Brazil, despite being by far the most important country in Ibero-American cultural area, never acted as a natural leader of this huge Latin space. In your view, this is a lost opportunity or prudence dictated by other strategic geopolitical interests?

Brando Benifei: I think that one of the causes lies in the double nature of Brazil: on the one hand, a central country of South America and, on the other hand, a country which is naturally suited for a more global projection, due to its size, resources, population and economic potential. Strong economic growth, from which the country has benefited, may have given a backseat to the goal of a regional Brazilian hegemony in this area marked by profound differences between countries, each with very specific characteristics. However, an effort to strengthen cooperation in the region would be, in my view, appropriate.