The European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC) partnership often remains overshadowed in discussions about regional alliances. This is primarily due to considerations of scale and influence across various dimensions. When governments and businesses contemplate partnerships, their initial thoughts typically gravitate toward either the USA or China, given their considerable global presence, and not that often to the EU-LAC connection.

Despite the aforementioned, the regional relationship between EU and LAC, with its considerable scale, derives its strength from shared values and ideas. The widespread support for democracy, as well as for the international system and human rights, is notable.

It can be argued that both regions are comparatively the most aligned in the world on these matters, with the additional advantage of the complementarity between them: the EU contributing investment and knowledge, and LAC offering opportunities in clean energy, essential food resources, and raw materials.

As reiterated throughout the recent EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels last July, the imperative is to establish the EU-LAC partnership as a deliberate partnership of choice. While it may not be readily apparent to the general observer, its significance for the future well-being of the populations in both regions cannot be overstated. This message must permeate the realms of both policymakers and businesses, and necessitate intentional, political, and financial cultivation to elevate it to a paramount priority and opportunity.

The huge challenge remains: to materialize these principles of partnerships a reality, to make business, well-being, sustainability, and trust grow.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen offered a concrete vision during the Global Gateway Business Roundtable:

Europe aspires to be the partner of choice to Latin America and the Caribbean, just like we choose to be a partner to the region. We believe that Europe’s offer to the region is different and significant. (...) European investments will come with a strong focus on creating local value chains. We think it is so important that the added value stays locally, [so] together, supply chains that are resilient. And important is that this added value remains in [LAC]. (…) Just imagine clean steel and concrete, clean fertilizer, clean trains, and buses all of them made in [LAC]. (…) Unlike other foreign investors, we are not only interested in investing in the extraction of the raw material. We want to partner with you to build the local capacity for processing, for making batteries and for the final products like electric vehicles.

This vision of the EU-LAC partnership is promising. Perhaps, it may be the clearer and more concrete expression of the strategy of Europe. Yet, it is complex at the same time. Europe is a more politically coherent block vis a vis LAC, where the national remains more relevant than the regional.  The promise of this vision depends entirely on its true execution.

LAC can indeed become a clean energy powerhouse, for example with the development of green hydrogen. The path to that vision requires a comprehensive transformation. Many large LAC economies remain highly dependent on exports and government financing in the economy of extracting oil and natural gas. If by 2050, in the worst-case scenario of not acting at all, LAC does not execute this transformation, its nations will fail not only economically, but democratically.

LAC urgently needs to discuss nationally and regionally this swift in the economies and could learn a great deal from dialogues of the sort that have occurred in Germany and Spain to phase out coal production in several regions.

A just energy transition must be at the core of the materialization of principles for the relaunch of the EU-LAC partnership. One that creates new jobs, builds local capacity and is sustainable. 

This degree of conciseness to build a togetherness, based on respect and win-win relationships is an asset. The need to draw lessons from the past is also a strength, not a bottleneck. The idea itself of Europe after WWII is built on an awareness based on remembrance. That capacity to understand a new way of partnering is itself the competitive advantage, even though there is not a consensus that the memory of relations between the EU and LAC should play a role. 

It is worth mentioning that a decisive means to accelerate progress within LAC and empower the Global South's capacity to facilitate human development, climate adaptation, mitigation, and a just energy transition is through collective support for reshaping international financial institutions. The Global South, LAC included, is highly indebted and lacks investment to address the pressing challenges ahead.

The EU-CELAC Declaration alludes to the objectives of the Paris Pact for People and Planet, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the Bridgetown Initiative—efforts championed by Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley on a global scale. These necessary changes, benefiting not only the developing world but the entire globe, also serve as a potent tool to expedite the transformative role of the EU-LAC partnership. Both regions should play pivotal roles in making these reforms happen.

The true measure of success for the shared ambitions of the EU and LAC lies in on-the-ground implementation, realized through tangible transformations and locally executed projects. The pursuit of this with a collective sense of purpose, marked by shared prosperity, sustainability, and dignity for all, will define success.

To be the partner of choice entails embracing the freedom to exercise positive change. This represents an exceptional and unparalleled opportunity that both sides of the Atlantic must grasp sincerely.



European Commission. (July 17, 2023). Opening speech by President von der Leyen at the EU-LAC 2023 Business Round Table. Retrieved on August 18,2023.


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