By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian politicians received with mixed feelings the news that the U.K. voted to withdraw from the European Union. All through the day on Friday, Congressional representatives spoke of concern with the possible repercussions of the decision on E.U.-Mercosur negotiations.
“For years we have been seeking an agreement [between the blocks]. It is likely that we will have to delay these discussions, with a reflex on commercial relations with Brazil,” Representative Carlos Zarattini, a member of the Chamber of Deputies’ Foreign Relations Committee was quoted by Agencia Brasil as saying.
The Brazilian government released a statement during the day in relation to the decision. “The Brazilian Government received with respect the result of the referendum on the permanence of the United Kingdom in the European Union.”
“Brazil is confident that this decision will not stop the process of European integration, nor the spirit of openness to the world that characterizes – and should continue to do so – both the United Kingdom and the EU. Brazil also trusts that all efforts will be made to ensure a smooth and stable transition,” said the statement issued by the country’s Foreign Relations Ministry (Itamaraty).
The European Union and Mercosur partners (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela) started partnership agreements sixteen years ago, and since then the two economic blocs have been trying to close agreements on withdrawal of trade barriers.
Interim President Michel Temer, however, said the U.K. plebiscite is an internal matter and that the Brazilian government would not render an opinion on the subject. “The UK decided by a referendum. Therefore, it is a political decision and we will not discuss it.”
“We need to see what are the economic repercussions that can affect Brazil,” said the president, emphasizing that Brazil’s concern is strictly about the economic consequences. Temer is said to have asked Finance Minister Henrique Meirelles to meet with the British Ambassador Alex Ellis on Friday afternoon to discuss the latest developments.