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EU deputies discuss ST&I in the agreement with Mercosur at Fiocruz


André Costa (CCS)


Fiocruz hosted last November 1st a meeting with a commission of 15 delegates of the European Union (EU) on its campus in Rio de Janeiro. Issues such as the trade agreement between the EU and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), the importance of public investment in science and technology, and international cooperation in health have been on the agenda. During the event, the coordinator of the Fiocruz Global Health Center, Paulo Buss, voiced his hope that the treaty will take as one of its main points the issues of science and technology, and the formation of human resources. According to Buss, "the world will be much better if the EU and Mercosur come together and stand up in the health field".

According to the former President of Fiocruz, this approach, however, will necessarily involve the public sector. Buss stated that "when we think of globalization, we have to think about win-win processes. We must not forget, nonetheless, that the state has the legitimation of the population to exercise health authority in the territory. We cannot give up the role of the state and governments in the health of populations. The invisible hand of the market who will not solve this issue; public institutions will".

Former Fiocruz president Paulo Buss made an urge for the EU to maintain support in Brazilian science in a moment of crisis (photo: Pedro Linger).

Buss also made an urge for "the European Parliament to maintain support in Brazilian science at a moment when the country is passing through a very severe crisis, that is deeply affecting Brazilian science. We hope that the EU can help Brazilian health institutions". He also expressed his hopes that the EU will be "open to working together with institutions in Asia, Africa and Latin America which, while not in Europe, strongly need help from EU and institutions such as Fiocruz. We had the ebola case and we have several issues like hunger and distribution posed as major challenges to the international community and we need to be up to the challenge".

Among the European delegates, Fernando Ruas, from Portugal, who chaired the delegation in Brazil, reinforced the importance of cooperation in health. "It is a key area, not only because there have always been problems to be solved, not only because populations are larger and the problems are more complex, but also because populations are global as globalization advances". Ruas also said that a good association agreement between the EU and Mercosur "will not be just commercial. If there are problems with empowering patent terms, how to fund research or how to move from the research phase to public markets, we will have to think about it and develop solutions. We will have to bring out the best for everyone".

Lambert Van Nistelrooij, a delegate from Netherlands, praised Fiocruz's public character, and said that the European Union plans to release a program that will be "a global call to support institutions like this". Van Nistelrooij also congratulated the Brazilian scientists for the work related to the zika virus, which, according to him, came to threaten his country, due to the close relationship of affected areas with the Antilles.

President of the European delegation in Mercosur, Francisco Assis defended the trade agreement between the two international organizations. According to him, the agreement "is not only commercial. It also aims at creating a common space in a wide range of fields, including innovation and technological organizations. The creation of a common area of scientific research is very important and cannot be developed as if the more developed area would support the less developed area. I have visited all the countries of Mercosur and I have visited areas where there is very advanced scientific research being developed, which we will also benefit from". Assis also pointed out that "Portuguese scientists, for example, are profound supporters of the deepening of the European Union, because they want to participate in a common and joint space for scientific research. They earn a lot from the cooperation in their labs".

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