EU-Latin America: 10 years of Strategic Partnership
European Commission - MEMO/09/426 30/09/2009
Brussels, 30 September 2009
EU-Latin America : 10 years of Strategic Partnership
Thanks to their historical, cultural and economic ties but also to their ever increasing convergence of values and principles The European Union (EU), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are natural partners. They share a common commitment to human rights, democracy, good governance, multilateralism and social cohesion, and they cooperate to achieve these objectives.
Over the past decade, relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean have been considerably strengthened with the support and firm commitment particularly from the European Commission, Ever since the first Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1999, the two regions have cooperated on a joint agenda in a number of bi-regional, bilateral, multilateral and sector-specific fora on issues like research, science and technology and social cohesion. Over the past ten years, the European Commission has financed more than 450 projects and programmes accounting for more than €3 billion.
The EU’s strategic policy objectives on Latin America that have guided action over the last decade are to:
strengthen political dialogue at regional, sub-regional (MERCOSUR, Andean Community, Central America) and bilateral levels, culminating in a Summit every two years;
pursue regional integration engaging, where possible, in negotiations to conclude Association Agreements (AA) with sub-regions, and complement it with strengthening bilateral relations to take greater account of diversity.
promote social cohesion — i.e. the fight against poverty, inequality and exclusion — which is a priority for development cooperation.
These strategic objectives have been supported by concrete actions and will continue to be pursued through dialogue and cooperation adapted to the changing global circumstances, as outlined in the new Communication ‘ The European Union and Latin America: Global Players in Partnership ’ (2009).
Taking stock of the ten years of the EU-LAC Strategic Partnership, it is essential to highlight its main achievements and results.
Bi-regional, sub-regional and bi-lateral dialogues
Apart from the five successful EU-LAC Summits held since 1999 and the successful conclusion of Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreements with the Andean Community and Central America , the Commission launched negotiations on Association Agreements with these sub-regions in 2007 and 2006 respectively. After several rounds of negotiations with the CAN, they stalled as the CAN members could not agree on common trade position. The Commission is since pursuing trade negotiations with some of its members. Following the recent events in Honduras negotiations with Central America are suspended. Furthermore, negotiations on an Association Agreement with Mercosur , launched in 2000 were put on hold in 2004 due to disagreement on the trade chapter.
As far as bilateral relations are concerned, 2007 and 2008 were marked by launching Strategic Partnerships with Brazil and Mexico, accompanied by Joint Action Plans (already in place in the case of Brazil and under preparation for Mexico). The EU is currently exploring the ways to enrich the existing bilateral relations with all countries in the region.
Assistance and Cooperation
The EU is the leading donor of development assistance for Latin America. In addition to the contributions from the Member States, since 1996 the European Community budget for Latin America has totalled around €500 ( 1 ) million per year.
The key objective of EU development cooperation (through the European Commission and EU Member States) in Latin America has been to contribute to poverty reduction by pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Major progress has already been made: increase in primary education coverage from 87 to 97 percent between 1990 and 2005 and reduction in infant mortality from an average of 54 deaths per 1 000 live births in 1991 to 31 in 2005.
Over the past ten years, the Commission has improved coordination with other donors in delivering and managing external aid programmes in Latin America. Aid delivery methods have been adapted, with budget support becoming an essential method to promote sound public finance management and ensure greater government ownership.
Current cooperation with Latin America is implemented under the Development Cooperation Instrument with €2.69 billion allocated for the period 2007-2013.
The priority areas for regional activities for the period 2007-2013 are the promotion of social cohesion and support for regional integration. Good governance, poverty reduction, higher education and sustainable development are likely to remain priority sectors for cooperation also following the ongoing Mid-Term Review exercise of regional and country strategy documents.
Additional funding for the region is available under the five thematic programmes of the Commission's Development Cooperation Instrument (Investing in People, Environment and Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, Non-State Actors, Food Security and Migration and Asylum). Last but not least, numerous projects to support democracy and protect human rights in Latin America are funded under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
Beyond the assistance provided by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank has earmarked €2.8 billion for loans in the region for the period 2007-2013.
Examples of projects implemented include:
The first EU-LAC Forum on Social Cohesion in 2007 launched a policy debate on key employment and social challenges.
The increasing support to sector programs has allowed for more frequent and deeper policy dialogues between LAC partners and the EU.
In Ecuador the EC contributes to social investment by improving marginalised and disadvantaged communities’ access to education through the support to the Decennial Education Plan. Important improvements in achieving universal basic education, the selection of 12.000 new teachers and a national alphabetisation campaign have also been registered.
Bi-regional dialogues on fiscal policy have been launched, which aim at better redistribution of income and wealth. Since 2008, two high level EU-LAC Fora on Fiscal Policies have been organised. Uruguay's tax system reform in 2007 which generated increased revenue and lead to a substantial increase in social expenditure was supported by the European Commission.
Human Rights and Democracy
The EU holds regular discussions on human rights with countries in the region, both bi-laterally, bi-regionally and multi-laterally.
Both regions have been strong proponents of a comprehensive body of global standards, and are behind such recent instruments as the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture; Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
For over a decade, the two regions have jointly run the annual resolution on the Rights of the Child at the UN General Assembly. Moreover, Latin America spearheaded work to support a resolution on a moratorium on the use of death penalty, proposed by the EU.
The EU has supported the Offices of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Latin America through targeted projects, and more recently, by funding its activities.
Over the past decade, the European Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights has contributed significantly to establishing the offices of the OHCHR in Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.
Election Observation Missions
The EU has supported the development of important electoral and constitutional processes in Latin America by deploying EU Election Observation Missions (EOMs). Over the last five years for example, EOMs have been deployed to Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela. Recommendations issued after each EOM have significantly contributed to the improvement of the electoral system in the countries concerned.
The bi-regional dialogue is conducted through the EU-LAC Co-ordination and Co-operation Mechanism on Drugs (since 1999) and through the EU-CAN High Level Specialised Dialogue in Drugs (since 1995). Good examples of cooperation are the Peace Laboratories in Colombia funded by the Commission and which contribute to the alternative development of crop-growing areas.
2008 saw the launch of the EU-LAC Structured and Comprehensive Dialogue on Migration that will address all issues of mutual concern in a pragmatic and responsible way. In the meantime, the Commission has been financing numerous projects under its thematic programmes. Only in the last three years, over 12 million EUR of Community funding have been approved for projects in Latin America ranging from initiatives to optimising the use of migrant remittances to actions addressing human trafficking, migration of health professionals and domestic workers. While most of the projects target the Andean countries, the Commission is also contributing to work in other regions such as a project of over €1 million that aims at “Supporting Regional Integration through Improved Migration Management in Central America” for example.
Climate Change and Energy
The First EU-LAC Ministerial Meeting on the Environment took place in Brussels in March 2008 prior to the Lima Summit. Since then, climate change adaptation and clean energy policies have been at the centre of the Rio Group/LAC - EU contacts. In March 2008, the Commission presented EUrocLIMA, an initiative aiming at expanding climate change networks and capacity in Latin America.
Research and Development
Much has been achieved over the last decade in the ‘knowledge triangle’ linking education, science and technology (S&T), and innovation. On average, Latin American countries have increased the average level of schooling from about four years in 1999 to around seven years now.
The interconnection through the ALICE Project (co-financed by the @LIS Programe) of RedCLARA (linking national research and education centers throughout Latin America with the pan-European GEANT2 network) has provided a major cooperation tool to research communities of Europe and Latin America . There are also cooperation schemes focused on capacity building and institutional cooperation strengthening between universities and other operators in the knowledge industry.
Trade and Investment
The EU is Latin America´s second-largest trading partner. During the last decade there has been a noticeable increase in trade between Latin America and the EU, resulting in trade figures that have more than doubled between 1990 and 2006. In 2008 the trade volume between Latin America 2 and the EU amounted to €178 billion, representing 14,6% of their trade with the world.
The EU has also traditionally been the leading investor in the region. The presence of European businesses in Latin America is a source of growth and employment and can help reduce social inequalities. The AL-Invest Programme set up by the Commission allows firms in both regions, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to sign trade agreements and take advantage of technology transfer. The Commission is identifying further instruments to facilitate investment in infrastructure, which is crucial for competitiveness.
Examples of Projects in Latin America:
Fighting Drugs: PRAEDAC: Alternative Development in Bolivia
Private sector support: Food Traceability Project
Health: Reducing HIV mother-to-child transmissions in Colombia
Employment: EU-Peru Programme for fighting poverty in Metropolitan Lima (PROPOLI)
Natural disasters & crisis management - Disaster Prevention and Social Reconstruction Programme (PREDERES)
Social Cohesion: Poverty Alleviation Budget Support Programme in El Salvador (PAPES)
Education: Support to Secondary Education in Honduras (PRAEMHO) - Reduce poverty through creation of quality job opportunities and development of human capital
Water and sanitation: Improving water and sanitation in the rural areas of Nicaragua (PRASNIC)
Food security: Supporting the Integral promotion of food and nutritional security in Nicaragua (PISA)
 These figures include the Andean Community, the Caribbean region, < Central America > , < Chile > , < Cuba > , Mercosur and << Mexico >>
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, El Salvador, Uruguay, Venezuela