New Grounds for the Relations between the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean - Towards a Relevant Partnership

The EU-LAC Foundation and the GIGA-German Institute of Global and Area Studies organized an international seminar on 17 and 18 September 2012 in Hamburg. The seminar counted with the support of CAF Development Bank of Latin America and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. 

For videos of the event, please click here.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony of the event took place at the Hamburg City Hall with the welcoming words of Mr Olaf Scholz, First Mayor of Hamburg, the Director of CAF for Europe, Mr Guillermo Fernández de Soto, the acting President of GIGA, Prof. Detlef Nolte, the President of the EU-LAC Foundation, Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the former President of the Dominican Republic and President of FUNGLODE, Mr Leonel Fernández.

The seminar included three panel sessions and a final debate on the new grounds for the relations between the European Union (EU), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) – towards a relevant partnership, in view of the upcoming Summit of Heads of State and Government between the two regions in January 2013 in Santiago de Chile. Among the participants were academics, high-level officials, opinion makers and entrepreneurs from both continents.

Panel Discussions

The bi-regional partnership, created in 1999, has been altered significantly during the past years due to important changes in both blocs, including the financial crisis affecting the EU, the economic growth that most LAC States have been experiencing, the emergence of new global geopolitical poles, as well as climate change. These important challenges for the present and future state of bi-regional relations were the topic of discussion between the participants.

The subject of the first panel was the bi-regional relationship since the first Summit of Heads of State, in Rio de Janeiro in 1999, to the upcoming one in 2013 in Santiago de Chile. The panel analysed the progress of negotiations between the two regions during that period. The participants identified the most important topics that will be discussed in Santiago, as well as the challenge to further cooperation posed by the existence of several sub-regional agreements in LAC. Some of the topics that were mentioned include poverty reduction, drug trafficking, global governance, climate change and academic cooperation between the two regions.

The challenges of the global context for the bi-regional relationship were the subject of the second panel session. The political and economic relations of each of the two regions with consolidated or new global powers, such as the United States of America or China, are an important contextual factor for the bi-regional partnership. The possibility of a triangular cooperation between the EU, LAC and other countries was mentioned during this session. Additionally, the necessity to raise productivity in LAC in order to reduce poverty and be more competitive on a global scale was mentioned.

The new basis of bi-regional relations was the topic of the third panel. This session stressed the need to better engage the civil societies of both regions into the integration process. Additionally, several concrete propositions were made in view of the upcoming Summit in Santiago.

The seminar closed with a final debate in which the participants exchanged their views on the future of the bi-regional relationship and some of the necessary steps to strengthen it more. 

The final conclusions given by the EU-LAC Foundation’s executive director, Jorge Valdez, underlined the need to fully integrate the Caribbean area into the bi-regional integration process and construct a common global vision between the two blocs in order to achieve real results. Mr Valdez also explained the Foundation’s future main working areas, which are: i) stimulating debate and thought on the bi-regional relationship by a variety of actors; ii) becoming a network of networks, by connecting those that already exist in both regions with each other and with the integration process; iii) working in the field of innovation, productivity and integration of Small and Medium Enterprises; iv) giving the bi-regional relationship greater visibility.

To download the event programme, please click here.

You may download a file with the proceedings of the seminar further down on this webpage (The opinions expressed in this book are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the view of the EU-LAC Foundation). 

Photo Credits: Janina Pawelz & EU-LAC Foundation