Today the Commission will propose to the Council and European Parliament a renewed strategy designed to strengthen the EU-Latin America strategic partnership.
With a view to the next EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summit to be held in Vienna in May 2006, the Commission analyses the current challenges and makes practical recommendations for revitalising the partnership. Its proposals include stepping up political dialogue between the two regions, stimulating economic and commercial exchanges, encouraging regional integration, tackling inequality and tailoring its development and aid policy more closely to real conditions in Latin America.
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commented: "We want to reinforce our mutual understanding and the existing partnership to create new dialogues and opportunities for both regions. Working together, we can better address the challenges of the globalised world and contribute to peace and stability in the region and to its development by increasing social cohesion, improving democratic governance and deepening regional integration. "
The Commission proposes to give fresh impetus to the EU-Latin America partnership, which currently faces a number of challenges.
In the coming years the Commission will focus on:
- Establishing an enhanced strategic partnership through a network of association and free trade agreements covering all the countries of the region and strengthening the existing agreements with Mexico and Chile.
- More effective targeting of political dialogue according to the parties concerned so as to increase the influence of the two regions on the international scene.
- Developing dialogues on social cohesion and the environment with a view to the sustainable reduction of inequalities and the promotion of sustainable development. The Commission proposes holding a social cohesion forum and a meeting of environment ministers every two years to prepare for the EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summits.
- Contributing to the development of a stable and predictable framework to help the Latin American countries attract more European investment, which will ultimately contribute to economic development. The Commission encourages the European Investment Bank to set up a Latin American Facility to provide loans in support of interconnectivity of infrastructure networks.
- Sustaining the Commission's commitment to supporting the countries of Latin America in the fight against drugs and corruption.
- Increasing mutual understanding through education and culture. The Commission will prioritise the creation of a common higher education area and undertakes to ensure that Latin American teachers and students are invited to visit European universities.
EU-Latin American relations
The EU is the leading foreign investor in Latin America, the leading donor to the region and the leading trading partner of many countries, particularly the Mercosur group. Political dialogue with the region's countries has been strengthened through three EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summits (Rio in 1999, Madrid in 2002 and Guadalajara in 2004). The strategy proposed today will also serve as a basis for preparing the next EU-Latin America/Caribbean Summit to be held in Vienna in May 2006.
The text of the communication can be found at:
For more information:
The EU's relations with Latin America: http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/la/index.htm