Brussels, 11 May 2009
EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will meet with their counterparts from the Rio Group, assembling Latin America and Caribbean countries, on 13 May 2009 in Prague (Czech Republic) to discuss issues of major concern to both regions, notably the impact of the economic and financial crisis and a sustainable approach to energy security and climate change. The 14th EU-Rio Group Ministerial meeting will also be a good occasion to discuss a Commission's initiative to create a facility to finance interconnectivity in the region, as contribution for regional integration and to address the economic crisis. The meeting will be followed on 14 May by Ministerial Troika meetings with Central America, Mercosur, Mexico and Chile to review the situation of bilateral relations with these regions and countries. The EU will be represented by its current Presidency Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kohout, and by the European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighborhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The Rio Group will be chaired by Mexico, represented by the Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Patricia Espinosa.
On the eve of the meeting, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said “The Prague meeting will be an occasion to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the intensive partnership that exists between our regions. It is fair to say that the European Union and Latin America have made significant progress in the last few years. The successful Lima Summit in 2008, the perspectives of concluding negotiations for an Association Agreement with Central America, the establishment of strategic partnerships with Brazil and Mexico, and the holding of bi-regional policy dialogues between both regions in important areas such social cohesion, environment and climate change, are just a few elements that support my belief. Moreover, our substantial cooperation programmes, which we are in the process of further adapting also in view of the next Summit in 2010, reflect the weight of our commitment to the region. We are decided to keep moving forward, especially in times where addressing major challenges can only be done in joining forces together!”
With the EU and the Rio Group economies strongly affected by the global economic downturn, and the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change scheduled for December, this Ministerial meeting offers a timely opportunity to re-assess political commitment and policies on the key issues, currently high on the international agenda, of financial crisis and climate change.
The European Commission’ strategy for Latin America for the years 207 to 2013 include: 1) promotion of social cohesion: fight against poverty, social inequality and exclusion; 2) support to regional integration and economic cooperation; 3) promotion of mutual understanding through education exchanges; 4) support to democracy, good governance, human rights; and (5) sustainable development including environment, energy security and climate change. This strategy is accompanied by a substantial assistance package amounting €2,690 million. This assistance is currently under revision, also in preparation of the next EU-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit between that will take place in Spain in spring 2010.
The two-day meetings will be distributed as follows:
Wednesday 13 May 2009 - 14th EU-Rio Group Ministerial Meeting
10h00 – 10h30 Opening Ceremony
10h30 - 12h30 Working Session on Renewable Sources of Energy: a sustainable approach to energy security and climate change.
12h30 - 12h45 Family photo
14h30 - 16h30 Working Session on Recovery of Financial Stability and Growth of the World Economy.
17h00 - 17h30 Press Conference
Thursday 14 May 2009
09h00 - 10h30 VI EU-Mexico Joint Council
11h00 - 12h30 IV EU-Chile Association Council
13h00 - 14h00 Ministerial meeting of the San José Dialogue between the EU and Central America
14h30 - 15h30 EU- MERCOSUR Ministerial meeting
A press conference will follow each meeting!
The Latin America Permanent Mechanism of Political Consultation and Coordination - the Rio Group - was created in 1986 in Rio de Janeiro. Today the members are Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM, represented by Jamaica), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. Cuba is the latest Member, by joining the Rio Group at the end of 2008. Mexico is currently holding the chair of the Rio Group.
The first Ministerial meeting between the EU and the Rio Group was in 1990. Since then Foreign Ministers of the two regions have met every two years, alternating with the years of the Summits between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean. The last ministerial meeting of the EU and the Rio Group took place in Santo Domingo in April 2007. Dialogue between the EU and the Rio Group also takes place regularly at the UN General Assembly in New York at Troika level, to discuss issues related to multilateralism and the international agenda.
Further information on the EU’s relations with Latin America: