The EU-LAC Foundation was established just over twelve years ago as a result of a period marked by intense contacts between the two regions. The first decade of the 21st century, identified in the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, was a period of relative prosperity due to global demand for the region’s export products, mostly primary goods. This boom allowed for the emergence of visions that projected the need to generate regional processes of greater political density. The described moment was also characterised by the search for internal regional options, culminating in the creation of CELAC. The European Union then found a counterpart encompassing all the countries in the region, and the Foundation was established in this context to express the strategic relationship institutionally, with the aim of becoming an intergovernmental international organisation, which eventually happened in 2016.

However, the second decade of the century was a historical moment of global economic contraction and a decline in the prices of products and services from Latin America and the Caribbean. The political cycle in the region changed, and several regionalist processes were affected. On the European side, situations such as migration crises and conflicts on the periphery set the background for its priorities at the time and an eight-year political lapse characterised by the absence of Heads of State Summits, the most important event in the bi-regional strategic relationship.

In addition to this circumstance, the 2020-2024 authorities of the Foundation began their functions amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. The normal ties of relationships between people and institutions were physically and spatially fractured, and for a year and a half, the institution’s initiatives were built with virtual resources but did not stop. On the contrary, they multiplied. Moreover, the pandemic opened the opportunity to establish forums for proactive and frank discussion among international organisations, governmental authorities from both regions, scientists, and civil society entities to identify and propose common bi-regional policies in a scenario characterised by urgency and scarcity, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The EU-LAC Foundation, on the other hand, had to face the challenge of building information platforms and knowledge production that would support its own relevance in a context marked by the absence of high-level regional contacts. Being an international organisation that depends on the common policies of heads of state, persisting in promoting the agenda and the relationship itself became a goal that had to be achieved through strategies prioritising the visibility of the institution and the link between Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Thus, the multiplication of activities, publications, and initiatives, even with very limited resources, became the appropriate instrument for achieving this purpose. This led to another strategic device: taking advantage of each initiative to create spaces for interaction among diverse actors that could eventually generate networks.

Particularly important, given the moment experienced, was the promotion of the bi-regional relationship, which, in addition to being the organisation's mission, was an internal policy aimed at consolidating its presence and guaranteeing its survival in difficult conditions. Given the vast agenda agreed between the regions, the Foundation identified five areas of action to execute this purpose: development issues (just transitions), culture, knowledge (higher education, science, and technology), and multilateralism, aimed at supporting the political dialogue of governments and societies as much as possible.

These backgrounds and institutional decisions allowed the Foundation to articulate with its stakeholders and the support of successive pro tempore presidencies of CELAC, as well as the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The EU-LAC Foundation was able to develop 175 different international activities in these four years and produce 104 publications, including books, policy briefs, newsletters, and working papers. The bi-regional relationship became more evident, and the visibility of the Foundation improved significantly.

One of the strategic advantages of the international organisation is that its scope of action requires consensus in decision-making, but its practices and legal delimitation force the construction of positive agendas.

The challenges of the Foundation are, essentially, the same as those of the bi-regional relationship. These are two conglomerates of countries with diverse realities and some evident asymmetries. Not only that, but also with foreign policies that do not always coincide; however, in a world whose international order is in the midst of rapid transformation, there are shared options and others that diversify the spectrum of international political relations for both. The two regions face global challenges, and in several of these issues, those that are part of the declarations of high authorities, there are coincidences that are the product of common needs and eventually many shared values. This was ultimately the backdrop for the management of the last four years.


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