Closer partnership between the EU and Latin America 1996-2000
To present the elements of a strategy for deepening relations between the European Union and Latin America by the year 2000 on the basis of an analysis of current relations between the two regions and an assessment of the cooperation between 1991 and 1995.
Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 23 October 1995 'The European Union and Latin America - the present situation and prospects for closer partnership 1996-2000' [COM(95)495 - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission highlights first and foremost the strategic interest of stronger ties between the European Union and Latin America, particularly taking account of the historical and cultural factors as a basis for convergence between the two regions, the favourable political climate (return to peace and consolidation of the rule of law and democracy in Latin America), the improvement in the macroeconomic situation of the Latin American countries, which creates favourable conditions for development and growth, and the development of regional integration in Latin America.
Analysing the relations between the European Union and Latin America since 1990, the Commission emphasises that this region has become the most dynamic market for European exports. In addition, political dialogue between the regions has progressed considerably. Institutionalised dialogue has been stepped up within the framework of the San José dialogue and with the Rio Group. The increase in the number of interparliamentary meetings and the conclusion of cooperation agreements incorporating the democratic clause are further examples of the substantial progress made in the political dialogue between the EU and Latin America.
Moreover, the EU is the largest source of official development assistance to Latin America, thanks, in particular, to its financial and technical assistance and economic cooperation. The Union is also one of the main sources of foreign direct investment in the region.
In its relations with Latin America, the EU intends to develop a regional and specific approach with each of the sub-regions, such as Mercosur, the Andean Group and Central America, and with Mexico, Chile and Cuba.
As a privileged partner of Latin America, the European Union must deepen its relations with that region, with a view in particular to helping it to tackle the challenges it faces:
- consolidating the rule of law;
- reducing poverty and social imbalances;
- completing reforms and boosting competitiveness.
As a result, the Commission suggests a strategy to deepen EU-Latin American relations at political and economic level which takes into account the diversity and heterogeneity of the South American subcontinent.
The Commission proposes tightening political ties with a view, in particular, to enhancing political dialogue at subcontinental (Rio Group), regional (Mercosur, Central America, Andean Pact) and bilateral level, under the country-based approach. This dialogue covers various topics, including:
- maintaining peace and regional stability;
- Community support for the democratic process;
- the defence and promotion of human rights.
In addition to the strictly bilateral questions, political dialogue also aims to ensure increasing involvement of Latin America in the running of international affairs and could look at other issues such as the development of inter-American relations and the challenges connected with environmental protection.
One of the priority topics for the countries of Latin America is strengthening economic integration and free trade. Indeed, thanks to its own unique experience in this field, the EU provides institutional support for the region's integration process and promotes the reinforcement of the subcontinent's trading, economic and technological capacities while guaranteeing social cohesion and sustainable development.
For this strategy to succeed, the Commission proposes the establishment of more relevant cooperation that is better targeted, more innovative and more flexible. This cooperation must concentrate on three specific priorities:
- institutional support and consolidation of the democratic process, especially through the consolidation of legislative, judicial, police and human rights institutions, the promotion of good governance and decentralisation;
- combating poverty and social exclusion in order to bring the people concerned into the market economy by establishing special programmes in the areas of health, education and housing;
- supporting economic reforms and improving international competitiveness, particularly through support for the development of the private sector, greater economic cooperation, promotion of industrial, scientific and technological cooperation, promotion of the development of the information society, and trade liberalisation.
These cooperation priorities are accompanied by three horizontal themes of mutual interest:
- support for regional cooperation and integration;
- education and training, particularly through initiatives (other than the ALFA programme for higher education) in the fields of basic education, literacy, adult education, vocational education and technical education;
- management of north-south interdependencies, especially through the implementation of measures in the environment, energy and drug sectors.
With regard to managing this cooperation, special attention is paid to improving the process of programming bilateral and regional cooperation. The Commission thus recommends regular updating of the strategic guidelines for each country. In addition, sectoral guidelines will be systematically drawn up setting out the most appropriate ways of dealing with the priorities and horizontal issues.
To ensure that Community action is as effective as possible, complementarity and cofinancing with the Latin American countries and the Member States as well as with other international donors must be sought. Priority must also be given to ensuring greater coordination of the Community's efforts with those of its Member States.
Decentralised cooperation must be encouraged in order to promote the participation of civil society in the EU and in Latin America in the development cooperation process. In addition, efforts must be made to implement, in addition to one-off projects, horizontal multiannual programmes along the lines of the ALFA, AL-Invest and ALURE programmes so as to ensure greater visibility for the Community.
Finally, the Commission stresses the need for greater familiarity and mutual understanding between Europe and Latin America in order to facilitate cooperation.