After an eight yr hiatus, the European Union is making an attempt to revive its relationship with Latin American and Caribbean international locations through the EU-CELAC summit on Monday and Tuesday (17 and 18 July).
During his opening remarks on the assembly in Brussels, EU Council president Charles Michel mentioned that whereas the EU and Latin America are already “shut commerce and funding companions” there may be “huge untapped potential” for each areas to be unlocked.
He additionally mentioned the summit ought to assist each areas transfer ahead in commerce agreements with Chile, Mexico and the Mercosur international locations (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay).
“These commerce offers have the potential to carry us nearer collectively,” he added, mentioning the significance of shut ties in right this moment’s geopolitical context with rising tensions and disrupted provide chains.
The EU’s relationship with the Latin American area has been hampered, amongst different issues, resulting from the slow progress on the controversial Mercosur agreement.
While no main breakthroughs within the overdue settlement with Mercosur international locations are anticipated because of the summit, each areas seem optimistic that the deal could possibly be finalised this yr.
“Our ambition is to settle any remaining variations as quickly as attainable so we are able to conclude this settlement,” EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen instructed reporters forward of the summit.
It took almost twenty years of negotiations between the Mercosur international locations and the EU earlier than they lastly reached a commerce deal in 2019.
However, long-standing sustainability issues, notably concerning deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, have posed challenges to concluding the political settlement.
For his half, Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva mentioned that he hopes for a “balanced” Mercosur settlement which might protect “the events’ capability to answer each current and future challenges”. He added that Brazil will ship on the local weather query.
EU high officers have described the brand new momentum within the relationship between the EU, Latin America, and Caribbean international locations as “historic”.
But variations over the condemnation of Russia’s struggle in Ukraine and methods to tackle wording over reparations for Europe’s function within the Atlantic slave commerce have sophisticated the finalisation of the joint settlement, which remains to be being drafted.
Although most CELAC international locations have backed a UN decision condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Nicaragua voted towards it, whereas Cuba, Bolivia, and El Salvador abstained.
“We will come out with some progress. We are on the lookout for peace, prosperity, sustainable improvement and safety for all,” mentioned CELAC president and prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, referring to the joint assertion.
Meanwhile, the summit can be seen as a method to set up a mechanism to determine common dialogue and cooperation between the EU and the Latin American and Caribbean areas.
“We should not wait one other eight years to have a subsequent summit, that would not make sense,” mentioned Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez.
“There are many extra issues that carry us collectively than divide us. Our relations must be extra fluid,” he added.
EU international relations chief Josep Borrell, who has travelled to the area on a number of events, mentioned that Europeans haven’t paid a lot consideration to Latin America and Caribbean international locations over the past eight years as a result of the 2 areas are “pure companions”.
“We are pure companions, however we have now to be one thing greater than the results of historical past, we have now to be the results of the political will to proceed working collectively,” he warned, arguing that this engagement is much more essential right this moment with the emergence of China and Russia’s new function.
Borrell additionally warned the EU-CELAC summit is a “political crucial” within the present geopolitical context.
While China is now Latin America’s primary commerce companion, the EU stays the most important investor within the area.
The EU introduced on Monday its dedication to speculate as much as €45bn in Latin America and the Caribbean area by 2027 by way of its Global Gateway initiative — which is seen as a substitute for China’s Belt and Road programme.
The checklist of 130 chosen initiatives ranges from electrifying city bus fleets in Costa Rica to increasing telecoms networks in Brazil and deploying 5G in Jamaica.
The commerce quantity of products and companies between the EU and Latin America amounted to not less than €369bn in 2022, representing nearly a 40 % improve from 2013.