1-2 December 2020
Under the provisions of the 1990 Framework Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation, the eleventh European Union (EU)-Argentina Joint Commission was held on December 1-2. The meeting was held virtually due to the public health situation generated by the pandemic. The Argentine delegation was chaired by the Undersecretary of Foreign Relations, Ambassador José Luis Pérez Gabilondo, while the EU delegation was headed by the Director for the Americas of the European External Action Service, Ambassador Javier Niño Pérez.
The relationship between Argentina and the EU is well founded and multifaceted, nurtured by rich historical ties and with great potential to further develop its positive and diverse agenda.
Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to democracy, the rule of law, fundamental human rights, strict adherence to the rules of international law, and gender equality. On the multilateral level, the parties strongly support a rules-based international order and an effective multilateral system.
The Joint Commission reviewed the progress made in the regional and bilateral agenda and recognized the important political dimension that the relationship between both parties is taking.
COVID-19 response and sustainable recovery
This year the pandemic has marked the political, social and economic life of the planet and has repercussions on our economies. In this context, the EU and Argentina highlighted the importance of the role of international organizations in addressing global problems, as in this health crisis, optimizing the coordination of the emergency response, in particular the efforts made by the WHO in the fight against this pandemic. The parties highlighted the implementation of the COVAX Mechanism as an example of solidarity and multilateral cooperation to attain global access to Covid-19 vaccines as a global public good.
The parties recognized the health, economic and social impacts the pandemic is having, including cases of violence against women and other vulnerable groups, both in Argentina and in Europe. In this context, the parties welcomed the joint work undertaken under the Spotlight program and the contributions made through the #TeamEurope initiative.
The parties coincided that the conclusion of the Association Agreement between Mercosur and the European Union will represent a new institutional framework for the development of economic, commercial, political and cooperation relations, strengthening the structures of relations between blocs with closely related values.
Within the framework of the Argentine pro tempore presidency of Mercosur and the Portuguese pro tempore presidency of the Council of the EU during the first half of 2021, the parties will work to create the necessary conditions to advance towards the conclusion and ratification of the Agreement.
The eleventh meeting of the Mixed Commission ratified the progress achieved since the tenth Mixed Commission and highlighted that recent years have shown a high level of dynamism in the relationship with the holding of regular meetings of the sectoral dialogues. Furthermore, the parties have been adapting their interaction to the new challenges of public management, creating new dialogues in the sectors of energy, the digital economy and sustainable agriculture, which were added to the long-standing dialogues between the parties such as the dialogue on human rights (which in 2020 was enriched with a specific chapter on gender), macroeconomics or biotechnology.
Reaffirming the commitment of each party to the objectives of the Paris Agreement on GHG reduction, both parties recognized the relevance of the environmental agenda for a balanced economic development that facilitates to overcome the situation posed by the pandemic, promotes a fair and fruitful exchange, respectful of the standards of preservation of the environment and the rules of international trade. In this context, the parties have agreed to instruct their teams to explore the most appropriate parameters to assess the prospective launch of a dedicated dialogue on environment between Argentina and the EU in the next COMIXTA.
Both parties stressed the importance of research and innovation within a global approach to create global alliances in the search for solutions to address global challenges.
In this context, the parties welcomed the next meeting of the steering committee of the cooperation agreement in science and technology that will confirm the important interest of both sides to strengthen cooperation in Global Health, including to face the Covid 19 crisis, continue to develop the "All Atlantic Research Oceans Alliance" as well as for the finalization of the provisions of an upcoming Copernicus agreement.
The Committee was preceded by a meeting of the trade policy representatives of both parties on November 30. In the commercial chapter, the parties reviewed recent developments in bilateral trade and economic relations and the status of investments in the context of the current economic situation. It was highlighted that the bilateral trade relations between Argentina and the European Union remain solid, even in the context of the pandemic, and that both parties share an interest in strengthening their economic and commercial ties. Several outstanding issues were addressed regarding market access. The European Union and Argentina agreed on their commitment to advance as soon as possible in resolving these issues.
Several multilateral issues were also addressed, such as the reform of the World Trade Organization, an important element of the shared agenda of promoting a rules-based international order.
Bilateral cooperation chapter
In addition to the diverse activities within the bilateral agenda, current ongoing work was reviewed and future lines of action were defined, which the EU will base on its new working method, #TeamEurope, according to which the EU and its member states join forces to cooperate with their partners. The importance of the work done with the creation of the “Mesa Covid” was also emphasized, which allowed eight Argentine ministries to exchange experiences with their European counterparts on public policies for managing the COVID crisis. Likewise, value was given to the set of bilateral initiatives on issues of social cohesion, the fight against gender violence, integration of migrants and refugees, environment and climate change, energy efficiency, local and regional development, SMEs, food security and triangular cooperation. In view of the new multi-annual programming, the parties affirmed their intention to give joint cooperation a strategic angle. Furthermore, the parties recognized the importance of both environmental and digital issues in the development of the future agenda between the European Union and Argentina in the coming years.
The EU and Argentina addressed at the meeting their like-mindedness on issues of the international agenda and appreciated the increase in their cooperation in multilateral fora - the promotion of joint resolutions at the United Nations such as that of "Torture-Free Trade" has been successful and demonstrates the potential of our united impact on the international scene.
Consensus between the parties was reaffirmed in matters of human rights, democracy, rule of law, peaceful settlement of disputes, the principle of non-intervention and the development of cooperation as a preferential instrument for the consolidation of common values shared between the parties, which has guided collaboration in various occasions and forums and the participation in different bodies dealing with all these shared themes.
In the context of the new horizon that opens in the political arena, Argentina expressed interest in maintaining a renewed political dialogue with the European Union in relation to the question of the Falklands Islands (Malvinas).
Looking at the future
The broad agenda and fruitful exchanges that took place in the framework of the eleventh Joint Commission clearly showed the extent and depth of bilateral relations. The meeting facilitated the highlighting of issues of mutual interest, to take stock on the richness of the existing relationship and achieve consensus on the future course of action.
The parties agreed on the timeliness of exploring an upgrade of the regulatory framework of the bilateral relationship so that it adequately reflects the diversity, intensity and density that this partnership has acquired, as well as its political status. To this end, they agreed to work during 2021 on consolidating options to realize this modernization and thus make the privileged political partnership as aspired by both parties a reality.