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Mobility, Diversity, Inequality, Sustainability: Cross-cutting issues of cultural, scientific and social relations between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean

6 October 2020

This study deals with bi-regional relations between the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in three dimensions which, unlike economic and trade relations, are not normally the focus of attention: exchange on cultural, scienti c and social issues. At the heart of the study is the question, how the cross-cutting issues of mobility, diversity, inequality and sustainability have been addressed in the political dialogue and concrete programmes between the EU and LAC since the institutionalization of bi-regional relations in 1999.

The study was carried out as part of the EU-LAC Focus Project (Giving focus to the Cultural, Scientific and Social Dimension of EU-CELAC relations), in which Berlin-based Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut worked with 19 partner institutions from Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe between 2016 and 2019.1 In this study, we refrain from giving a general description of the development of bi-regional relations since the 1990s and from describing the serious diferences that exist between the partners EU and CELAC. Detailed re ections on these issues can be found in three final documents of the EU-LAC Focus project (EU-LAC-Focus 2019 a, b, c). In Chapter 2, however, we mention a number of points that seem to us to be central as framework conditions for the cultural, scientific and social relations between the two regions.

These general considerations are followed by three chapters, in which we deal with the three dimensions that were at the heart of the EU-LAC-Focus project. In each of the chap- ters dedicated to the cultural, the scienti c and the social dimension of the bi-regional relationship, we will rst explain how the respective dimension is embedded into the con- text of regional cooperation and integration in both regions. We then show how the bi-regional relationship has developed in each dimension. Against this background, we study the signi cance of the four cross-cutting topics. The analysis of each dimension ends with the consideration of impacts, achievements and challenges. The study concludes with a chapter that presents general conclusions of our analysis.

The selection of the cross-cutting topics was guided by four criteria. First, they are paradigmatic key concepts encapsulating a broader spectrum of themes and problems. Second, they address significant aspects of the social, the scientific and the cultural dimensions of EU-LAC relations. Third, they are of strategic relevance for the EU-LAC bi-regional agenda and play also an important role within the UN framework.

Fourth, they are adequate to analyse the multidimensionality of the “new paradigm” on development that has been developing during the last years. Thus, the analysis of the selected cross-cutting issues makes a contribution to overcome blind spots in our understanding of EU-LAC relations.

We understand mobility as the spatial movement of people and knowledge between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. The mobilization of people may be temporary or long-term (e.g. labour migration). When analysing the mobility of people in all three dimensions we will find that, depending on the context, key groups of actors change (e.g. in the scientific dimension, students, post-docs, senior researchers; or in the social dimension workers carrying out health or home/child-care services). It is important to note, that not only people but also knowledge, encompassing also values, worldviews and experiences, are mobilized and circulate across the Atlantic. In addition, we will also see that digital transformation produces new patterns of mobility beyond institutional and national borders.

We define inequality on two analytic levels. On the one hand, we address inequalities between countries and among regions. On the other, there are inequalities between indiviuals and social groups that can be de ned as a disparity among individuals, social groups and institutions, in time and space, that create a hierarchy of access to socially-relevant and economically important goods (income, wealth, etc.) and power resources (rights, political participation, political power, etc.). Beyond the traditional emphasis on class diferences and unequal distribution of income, we also consider inequalities of gender, class, ethnicity and the interrelations among these social categories.

We address diversity in two ways. On the one hand, we focus on cultural diversity. It encompasses diversity in terms of cultural norms, values, forms and practices of knowledge. Cultural diversity also includes di erences between individuals and within social groups regarding gender, age, or ethnicity, as well as the intersections between these social categories. On the other, we take biological diversity into account. It refers to the variability among living organism from all sources, including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part. In the context of wellbeing, livelihood and sustainability, cultural and biological diversity are mutually interdependent.

2. In a joint document published in 2018, the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) emphasized the need for a new development paradigm with five key dimensions: “(i) It needs to o er additional measures beyond per capita income; in particular metrics that measure people’s objective and subjective needs as well as other areas, including productivity and economic transformation. (ii) It needs to rede ne cooperation strategies to focus at the national level and take into account speci c national institutions and development traps in order to de ne policy priorities under a multidimensional framework. (iii) It needs to focus on the global challenges of an increasingly interconnected and multipolar world, redirected mainly in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. (iv) It needs to include a refounding of multilateralism in a complex international landscape, which is more and more multipolar given increasing concentration of economic and political power and new emerging actors. This integrated perspective should also include horizontal cooperation across di erent levels of government. (v) It calls for advancing international cooperation for development beyond traditional nancial assistance to include a new set of modalities, such as innovative instruments of knowledge-sharing, multilateral policy dialogue, capacity-building, technology transfers, blended nance and resource mobilization” (ECLAC/OECD 2018: 30).

The core of the sustainability concept is formed by the interconnections between economic growth, environmental health and social wellbeing. Since the late 1980s, sustainable development has been a key concept of international social and environmental frames. It has been taken into account to a lesser extent within economic international frames. In the realm of the current study, sustainability addresses societal transformations aiming at more equal, inclusive and ecologically friendly modes of living, highlighting the interdependencies between spatial scales (local, national, regional and global scales) and temporal scales (past, present and future). In more concrete ways it refers to specific knowledge, institutional developments and technologies able to cope with global environmental changes (e.g. climate change, biodiversity loss, land-use changes, rapid urbanizations) and mitigate their effects.

These definitions of the four cross-cutting topics serve as a first orientation. In the context of the analysis they are outlined with more details. The spatial frame of our analysis focuses on the bi-regional level, i.e., to relationships institutionalised and implemented in a specific political and legal setting between the EU and CELAC (and their precursors in LAC). Since the bi-regional level of relations is only one component of a broader network of relationships between the two regions, relations between the EU and sub-regional actors in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as individual partner countries, in particular the strategic partners Brazil and Mexico, are also taken into account.

GÖBEL Barbara
BOYER Miriam
General EU-LAC Relations
Bi-regional Relations