"The EU had welcomed the creation of MERCOSUR with enthusiasm. Our common history and battles to overcome dictatorships, our shared culture and values, our strong commitment to regional integration, contributes to make the EU and MERCOSUR natural partners.
I believe strongly that your experiences in transition to both democracy and a free market economy are useful models for other parts of the world. I think here of the EU's Southern and Eastern neighbourhoods in particular. There is a need for your expertise not just in Latin America but also in North Africa and in Eastern Europe.
We welcome the strengthening of PARLASUR and the steps taken to reinforce its legitimacy, democratic accountability and powers. This can only strengthen the process of regional integration.
However, one aspiration for the EU-MERCOSUR relationship remains to be fulfilled, namely the conclusion of a comprehensive Association Agreement. Such an agreement, which we consider as a strategic objective, is not meant to be only a free trade agreement. It will also include political dialogue and co-operation, given that both regions share similar democratic values, concerns and interests.
We are aware of the sensitivities existing on both sides, but we believe the time has come to move on towards the conclusion of the Agreement. The Parliament is following the negotiations very closely. We hope we can enter the crucial phase of trade negotiations by mid 2012.
A strong EU-MERCOSUR partnership, on the foundations of a comprehensive, ambitious and well-balanced Association Agreement, will provide the best platform for addressing the actual challenges together."
Note to editors:
EP President Jerzy Buzek met on 20 December the members of the Bureau of Parlasur - (the Parliament of Mercosur). European Parliament President had as well an exchange of views with Vice-President of Uruguay, Danilo Astori.
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