COVID-19 in Latin America and the impact on the bi-regional relations with Europe

On Friday, 7th of May the President of the EU-LAC International Foundation, Leire Pajín, participated in the event “COVID-19 in Latin America and the impact on the bi-regional relations with Europe” which was organised by the Senate of Hamburg within the framework of the Europe Week in Hamburg, and which gave an overview of the political, social and economic consequences of COVID-19 in Latin America and their impacts on the European Union.

On the panel, President Leire Pajín shared the floor with Jolita Butkeviciene, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships, and Prof. Dr Merike Blofield, Director of the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies, and the State Secretary Almut Möller, Plenipotentiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation, the EU and for foreign affairs moderated the panel. 

The panellists shed light on how Latin American health and social systems are coping with the challenges caused by the pandemic. In this context, Prof. Dr Merike Blofield emphasized, that the region is the most affected by the pandemic, and vaccination rates are significantly lower than in Europe. She presented the variety of policy efforts and social protection programmes undertaken by LAC governments, calling on a necessary tax system reform to combat rising poverty as a result of COVID-19.

The President of the EU-LAC International Foundation, Leire Pajín, highlighted the new opportunities for the bi-regional alliance between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean arising from this event. Even though the pandemic caused severe economic and social problems for both regions, a firm commitment to the bi-regional alliance can be an opportunity for joining forces to overcome the global crisis and increase the chances for an inclusive and sustainable recovery. Focusing on common values and the shared dedication to the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda, the bi-regional partnership between EU and LAC can overcome the period of abstention, stated President Leire Pajín. In this context, she underlined the importance of sharing and collaboration with good practices:

"It is essential to address these current problems maintaining a dialogue at all levels and to include civil society and increase the people-to-people contact. In this sense, the EU-LAC Foundation has developed different instruments as a service to society."

Jolita Butkeviciene agreed on this joint commitment to fundamental strong rule-based international systems. Moreover, she highlighted the economic impact of the bi-regional alliance since the association represents a billion people and 15 per cent of the world’s population. Nevertheless, she stressed the failure of political commitment from the European Union to the LAC region, and the urgent need for a high-political bi-regional summit. Jolita Butkeviciene argued the most complicated challenge is to match the political weight with economic and cooperation actions on the ground, hence the importance of the EU-LAC Foundation.

The EU-LAC Foundation has been established in the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg in Germany since 2011. During the Europe Week in 2021, the Foundation participated in two activities of this series of events. 

Here you can find out more information on the EU-LAC webinar “Cultural Policies in times of Digitisation: Experiences from the European Union, Latin America, and the Caribbean”, which also took place during Europe Week 2021.