A “strategic triangle” formed by Africa, Latin America and Europe. This is the alliance proposed by the Portuguese non-profit association Latin America Development Institute (IPDAL) that hosted on 7th April in Lisbon an international forum to discuss about an alliance that, if it becomes a reality, would allow the European Union to counter the growing influence of China in the respective regions.
The conference, attended by the president of the EU-LAC Foundation Benita Ferreo-Waldner as a special guest, revolved around a report of the consultancy Accenture from 2013, according to which the competitive advantages of an alliance between the three regions that unite 133 countries and 2,3 billion of people lay in its demographic balance, the search for natural resources and its cultural proximity.
On initiative of IDPAL and prior to the conference, the Portuguese political parties had been holding a parliamentary session to review Portugal´s relations with both sides of the Atlantic. They identified this triangle, and especially the vertex Latin America, with Brazil, Mexico or Chie, as one crisis´ exit door.
The report encourages the European Union to define its role in this alliance with clarity and without delay - while 70 per cent of its investments are still being made intra-communitary, China has become Africa´s first direct investor and makes major steps forward in Latin America.
“The triangle between the three blocks responds to a geopolitical concept created to be installed in an imaginary collective.” stated the Vice President of the Spanish Think Tank Royal Institute Elcano, Rafael Estrella, at the forum that was attended by representatives of Mercosur, the Pacific Alliance, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the African Union, the European Commission and the Community of Portuguese Language Speaking Countries.
Pedro Pires, former Cape Verdean President and currently Special Envoy of the African Union in Tunisia, stressed the economic strength of his continent that has permitted the birth of a middle class, even though this improvement has not achieved to make up for the lack of infrastructure and the problem of social inequality.
Ferrero-Waldner recalled that the history of cooperation between EU, Latin America and Africa has overcome difficult challenges and has been fruitful, but she advocated to “rethink the cooperation and diplomacy” in order to work united against common challenges” such as the fight against illegal drug trade, the protection of the environment, social cohesion and gender equality.
“People do not live together just because, but to undertake big enterprises”, said Ferrero-Walder, paraphrasing Ortega and Gasset in their allegation in favour of the strategic triangle Europe, Latin America and Africa, an initiative that she supported, days later, at the Latin American Forum on Global Governance in Rio de Janeiro, organised by the Brazilian Think Tank Getulio Vargas Foundation and the German Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius ZEIT Foundation.
Latin American forum: Atlantic triangle
In Brazil, the President of the EU-LAC Foundation stood up for the construction of a dynamic and harmonious community of the Atlantic, based on free trade, investment and the access to affordable energy for all, but also on the promotion of economic and technical cooperation, education, security and the respect to human dignity in order to facilitate growth and sustainable development.
“Besides that, the Atlantic triangle - emphasized Ferrero-Waldner – brings new hope for the energy future of all since the Atlantic region will determinate the innovation and reorganization of the world map of oil and gas, just like the development of renewable energies.”
The President of the EU-LAC Foundation talked In this context about the “vital” urge to come to a new agreement on global climate within the next year and, just as during her invention in Lisbon, encouraged to search and create synergies that give common answers to global problems.
Ferrero-Waldner referred to the world drug problem to underline the innovative policies that have been applied by countries in Europe and Latin America, such as the legalization of marijuana in the Netherlands and Uruguay.
She highlighted in this context the need to combat the drug problem from all angles, including the improvement of social cohesion because it “would permit to offer alternatives to criminal activity as a source of income and will help to increase the resistance against criminal networks”, she said.
Ferrero-Waldner presented in front of many personalities at the Forum in Rio the great range of global areas on which Latin America and Europe can collaborate in designing strategies for sustainable development, gender equality, a field in which the Foundation is working with different organisations, and in a new cooperation that includes governments, civil society and the private sector.
“Our time demands a new definition of leadership, global leadership”, affirmed the President of the EU-LAC Foundation and declared, in accordance with the statement of the Forum, that “a good global governance not only needs legal and regulatory framework, but also institutional strength, coordination and partnership.”
For this reason “I believe that the strategic association between EU, Latin America and the Caribbean is more relevant than ever”, she affirmed.