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Lunch debate: Fresh wind for the EU-CELAC relations?

Scott Umstattd / Unsplash
Scott Umstattd / Unsplash

At our lunch debate, we discussed whether the high expectations for deeper cooperation between the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean following the EU-CELAC summit in July are justified, given existing asymmetries and political differences.

Right at the start of the Spanish Council presidency, the first summit of the heads of state of EU member states and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) since 2015 will take place in Brussels. In recent years, relations have remained in the background of political attention, but now expectations for the summit are high.

On the one hand, there are well established ties between the regions that have great potential: EU and CELAC countries have long enjoyed good trade relations; they support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and share fundamental values. The outlook of mutual knowledge transfers in the field of environmental protection and sustainability as well as the commitment to multilateralism in both regions form a basis on which cooperation with the EU can remain attractive to CELAC states, even in competition with China.

On the other hand, there is room for improvement and need for action on the factors damaging the relations, such as existing asymmetries between the regions, for instance in the states’ fiscal capacities; the neglect of civil society concerns in the negotiations; the sometimes contradictory policies of the EU; and the slow progress in the MERCOSUR agreement. Overall, the partnership should become more honest and strategic - then the EU and CELAC could potentially develop common positions and play a stronger role together in the international community.

The panel of experts included Dr. Anna Barrera Vivero, Senior Programme Manager of the EU-LAC Foundation; Heike Freimuth, Representative of the EIB Group in Germany; Dr. Susanne Gratius, Professor of International Relations at the Autonomous University Madrid; and Sam Pieters, Trade Advisor at the Representation of the European Commission.

The IEP organized the event in cooperation with the European Investment Bank.
The event took place at the European House of the Representation of the European Commission in Germany and the Liaison Office of the European Parliament in Germany with the kind support of the Federal Foreign Office, the European Commission and the Otto Wolff Foundation.

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Team & authors

About the Europe talks project: The IEP's Europe Talks bring together citizens, decision-makers, academics and civil society to discuss challenges and perspectives on European integration. In this way, they promote the debate on European policy in Germany.

Image copyright: Scott Umstattd / Unsplash