The Caribbean in the EU-CELAC Partnership

This publication is the result of a specific study commissioned by the EU-LAC Foundation with the aim to analyse the question of how the participation of the Caribbean in CELAC could be strengthened in order to boost CELAC and the Bi-regional Strategic Partnership?

As the Caribbean relates to the EU in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group, the study also examines the ACP-EU relationship vis-à-vis the Caribbean’s engagement in CELAC and the Bi-regional Strategic Partnership.

The authors of the study, affiliated with the University of the West Indies (UWI), adopt the view that the Caribbean’s participation in CELAC could be enhanced and sustained on the basis of the challenges that it shares with Latin America, and they propose the following areas for collaboration: poverty and inequality, crime and security, food security, non-communicable diseases, financial vulnerability and governance and transparency.

In light of the impending expiration of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement in 2020, and the importance the EU places on regional configurations – including those outside the ACP framework – which are in the same region, the authors find that CELAC could play a relevant role in the post-Cotonou framework.

Second, the study identifies, as a basis for exploring how they could be overcome, the hindrances to the Caribbean’s participation in CELAC, key among them being resource constraints to attend and engage meaningfully in CELAC meetings which add to an already overburdened meeting schedule, arising out of the existing “spaghetti bowl” of regional integration efforts in which the Caribbean participates.

Also, several assets of the Caribbean are presented which can contribute to enhancing its participation in CELAC and the Bi-regional Strategic Partnership, including its successful experiences with regional integration and cooperation, the legitimacy of its voice on issues such as small state development and climate change, the make-up of its membership which provides openings to Latin America, and its access to other important groupings such as the ACP group, AOSIS and, in the case of the Anglophone Caribbean, the Commonwealth.

It is argued that CELAC and the bi-regional Strategic Partnership provide several opportunities for LAC countries in general, and for the Caribbean, in particular, including: additional space for South-South cooperation; a forum to coordinate LAC positions; a window for increased leverage on the global stage; an institutionalised entry point for the Caribbean to Latin America; the opportunity to overcome existing divisions between the LAC sub-regions; opportunities for the Caribbean to take advantage of Latin America’s high levels of per capita income and technological advancements; an additional space to advance special consideration for the Caribbean and to advance its development objectives; increased weight for relating with the EU; an avenue to broaden triangular cooperation; and a space for the Caribbean to engage with the EU alongside the ACP framework.

Next to providing several more general recommendations, and arguing on the basis of subsidiarity, the study recommends that, by deepening complementarity and coordination among existing institutions, they could support the Caribbean’s participation in each of the substantive areas identified.