The first regional summit between the EU and the Community of Latin America and Caribbean states (CELAC), took place in January 2013 in Santiago de Chile, as the new region-wide political organisation and therefore new counterpart for the EU. Brussels hosted the 2015 Summit on 10-11 June themed "Shaping our common future: working for a prosperous cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens". On 25-26 October 2016, the first standalone Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMA) will be held in Dominican Republic, currently holding the EU-CELAC pro tempore presidency,. The mandate granted to Foreign Ministers during last EU-CELAC summit aims at re-invigorating the political relationship and relaunching the strategic nature of the bi-regional partnership.
The EU pursues sub-regional relations with Central America, the Caribbean, the Andean Community and Mercosur. Bilateral relations are increasingly dynamic.
"The people of Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe have a long history of common aspirations…nowadays, we share a wish for peace and prosperity that our cultural and historical roots have helped to strengthen from generation to generation." Federica Mogherini, High Representative/ Vice President of the EU.
EU-CELAC: A Strategic Partnership for the 21st century
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), launched in 2010, is a regional mechanism for political dialogue and cooperation involving the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). It has merged the Rio Group (political consultation forum) and CALC (“Cumbres América Latina y Caribe” – internal LAC Summits). CELAC is the EU's counterpart for the bi-regional partnership process, including at summits level. EU-CELAC relations are structured around biennial summits, regular senior officials' meetings as well as specific thematic dialogues and initiatives including:
At the EU-CELAC Summit, political leaders agreed to move towards a Common Research Area (CRA). Further to that, the European Commission presented the concept of an EU-CELAC CRA, based on three key priorities: i) increased mobility of researchers, ii) access to research infrastructures of global nature and iii) jointly addressing common challenges, at a meeting of Science and Technology Ministers and High Level Officials of CELAC in Quito on 15 September 2015. Based on long-standing links in science and technology between the EU and the CELAC countries, the fifth Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on Science and Technology of the EU-CELAC Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation launched the Common Research Area. The meeting of the Senior Officials took place in Brussels, on March 14 and was chaired by Cristina Russo and co-chaired by Plácido F Gómez Ramírez, Vice Minister for Science and Technology, Dominican Republic, representing the CELAC Presidency.
- Cooperation on Higher Education: In 2015, Erasmus+ was successfully launched in CELAC countries. In the period 2014-20, Erasmus+ will devote €36.5 million to fund about 6,200 mobility's mostly for CELAC students and staff coming for a study period to Europe. In addition, around 3,500 Erasmus+ scholarships will be awarded to CELAC students to be enrolled in excellent joint Masters Programmes. It is expected that €83 million will fund around 100 capacity-building projects with the region. A regional event to promote Erasmus+ is planned in the autumn of 2016and employment to promote social inclusion and cohesion.
- The EU-CELAC Structured Dialogue on Migration provides a framework to exchange best practices and build capacities that can help to address bi-regional migration challenges. Last meeting: IX High-Level Meeting 2014 and the Technical Seminar on Migration CELAC - UE: Perspectivas y Oportunidades of 22 June 2015.
- The EU-CELAC Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism on Drugs provides a policy dialogue structure aimed at tackling the world drug problem and is a reflection of the shared and common responsibility in this area.
“COPOLAD II – Cooperation programme between Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union on Drugs Policies” is part of the Multi-Annual Regional Indicative Programme for Latin America for the financial period 2014-2020, included in the priority area related to security-development nexus. It seeks to promote security conditions conducive to inclusive development. Building on the first phase of COPOLAD, this particular action aims at supporting the capacity of beneficiary states and communities to develop integrated, balanced and human rights-based national drug policies covering both drug demand and supply reduction efforts, in line with the principle of co-responsibility. During the identification and formulation phases, the results and lessons learnt of the phase of COPOLAD as well as of other relevant EU initiatives, like the Cocaine Route Programme, funded under the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace, were carefully analysed and taken into account.
The economic character of the relationship has also intensified these last ten years. The EU is the second largest trade partner, its first investor and the main development partner of the LAC region.
The EU is linked to most non-EU Caribbean countries through an Economic Partnership Agreements. Free trade areas have been fully in force with Mexico and Chile since 2000 and 2005 respectively. Efforts are underway to update and modernise these two agreements.
Delegations of the EU and Mexico met in Brussels 13-14 June for the first round of negotiations to update the Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement (Global Agreement), which entered into force in 2000. Given the positive talks in all areas, the Parties agreed to work inter-sessional to prepare the second negotiating round to be held in Mexico City as soon as possible, in the autumn of 2016. Both sides are strongly committed to achieving swiftly the objective of creating an updated framework with tangible benefits for all 625 million Europeans and Mexicans. The EU and Chile have also made progress in their exploratory talks on the possible modernisation of the EU-Chile Association Agreement. T
he Trade agreements between the EU and Colombia and Peru have been provisionally applied since 2013. The Annual Report on the Implementation of the Trade Agreement was published on 10 February 2016. Ecuador initialled its accession protocol to this Agreement in December 2014 and should sign the agreemement shortly. The Association Agreement between Central America and EU is provisionally applied since 2013. Negotiations for a free trade area continue with Mercosur. The EU-Mercosur Association Agreement will strengthen political relations based on common values and interests, and boost trade and investment relations between both regional organisations. As an important step in this direction, the exchange of market-access offers covering goods, services and public procurement took place on 11 May 2016. This has now been followed by an active negotiation agenda aiming at an ambitious and balanced agreement. The next round will be held from 10th to 14th October.