The frontrunner in Brazil’s presidential election, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has vowed to restore ties with the European Union if he is elected.
It came as he met an EU delegation on Monday, which included MEP Iratxe García Perez.
“If we return to govern this country again our relationship with the European Union will be very strong,” he said. “We will work hard to achieve the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, South America and the European Union.”
The relationship between Brazil and the bloc has been strained for years, over the government’s environmental policies and its treatment of the Amazon rainforest.
Lula has accused incumbent Jair Bolsonaro — who is also standing for a second term — of destroying it.
Satellite images taken between January and June show 4,000 square kilometres of forest have been torn down, more than in any six-month period during the seven years of record-keeping under the current methodology. This is the equivalent of four times the size of New York City.
The forest cutting also appears to be taking place during the rainy season whereas deforestation is historically higher in the drier second half of the year when it is easier to access remote areas on the region’s unpaved roads.
During his campaign, Lula has pitched himself as an environmentally friendly candidate, promising his government would enforce restrictions on Amazon development.
The European Union has urged Brazil for years to curb illegal activities in the rainforest in sometimes acrimonious exchanges that prompted the EU to stop investment in the country.