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The EU is setting out a vision for renewed political partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean. The 'Joint Communication' comes 10 years after the last major EU strategy for the region. It comes at a difficult time of crisis in Venezuela, where the EU is actively seeking a peaceful and democratic way forward through an international contact group. It comes at a difficult time of crisis in Venezuela, where the EU is actively seeking a peaceful and democratic way forward through an international contact group.
Against this backdrop, Federica Mogherini is keen to recall the bigger picture. "Latin America and the Caribbean are close and important partners for the EU", she says. "Though far apart geographically, we are closer than any other continents; today we are closer than ever".
Looking to the next five years, the EU aims at achieving more strategic political engagement, pursuing a responsible trade and investment agenda, and ensuing maximum impact from its cooperation with the countries of the region. Together these represent a new balance in the EU's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean based on a partnership of equals.
20 years after leaders from both continents met at Rio de Janeiro in June 1999, efforts continue to build a fully regional partnership based on common commitments and values. At the same time, the EU makes clear its willingness to step up its engagement with sub-regional groupings and with countries ready to go further. The EU proposes to do this through four partnerships: for prosperity, democracy, resilience and effective global governance.
The EU's intention is to complete its network of Association and Trade Agreements, in particular those with Chile, Mexico, Mercosur and the Caribbean (in the context of negotiations with the ACP group), and to complete ratification of the EU-Central America Association Agreement and the EU-Colombia/Ecuador/Peru Trade Agreement.
Throughout this reinvigorated strategic partnership the EU wants to emphasise the importance of engaging seriously with a group of 33 countries, which in the past 10 years have more than doubled their investment in the EU. Taken together they constitute the EU's fourth largest trade partner.
Latin America and the Caribbean are essential partners for the EU in multilateral forums. Without their support, the EU would be unable to achieve important goals in areas like climate change, sustainable development, peace, security and human rights. Together we represent a third of UN membership, making us vital partners for a rules-based multilateral order.