Latin America and Caribbean is one of the world's most disaster-prone areas and amongst the most affected by violence and forced displacement. EU humanitarian aid focuses on the populations most affected by natural hazards and man-made crises, including violence and population displacement, and on preparing communities to face multiple disasters. Droughts, floods, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions regularly devastate infrastructure, causing significant loss of lives and livelihoods, and hurricane seasons have become more extreme. The EU has earmarked €6.5 million for disaster preparedness projects in the region in 2020, in addition to immediate support in the aftermath of disasters via the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism.
The COVID-19 epidemic has hit the LAC region particularly hard: with only 8% of the world’s population, it has registered 32% of global deaths. The EU has provided humanitarian aid, with particular focus on vulnerable persons, including indigenous populations. As part of the EU global response to the coronavirus, a Humanitarian Air Bridge operation consisting of 3 flights delivered life-saving material to Peru.
Migration includes two major elements in the Americas: South-North migration from LAC countries (especially Mexico, Central America, Haiti, Cuba) towards the US and the current Venezuelan migration crisis, which involves mostly Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina. Relevant EU initiatives include the International Contact Group (ICG) and EU Special Envoy for Venezuela, EU humanitarian and development assistance to countries hosting large numbers of Venezuelan migrants, different events, such as the October 2019 Solidarity Conference on the Venezuelan migration crisis, the Pledging Conference organised in 2020, as well as thematic workshops for the affected countries. There is also the future regional border management/migration project EUROFRONT and various bilateral projects in the region.
The EU has been providing assistance in Venezuela since 2016. In 2018 and 2019 alone it provided more than €172 Million in humanitarian and development aid for projects inside and outside Venezuela, including in the countries most affected initially by the migratory crisis (Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru). The EU has been sharing its experience and practices with host countries. The EU will provide € 147 Million in new funding (DEVCO, ECHO and FPI) to deal with the migratory crisis.
The recently adopted Communication on EU Security Strategy 2020-2025 reaffirms that protecting the Union and its citizens is no longer only about ensuring security within the EU borders, but also about addressing the external dimension of security. Cooperation with third countries to address common challenges is central to an effective and comprehensive response. An EU Agenda on organised crime is currently in the making, stressing the need for the EU to step up its work against organised crime, including at international level, with more tools to dismantle organised crime’s business model. The new EU Agenda and Action Plan on Drugs 2021-2025 reinforces the evidence-based, integrated and balanced approach to drugs demand and supply reduction.
The EU is committed to fostering human security in the whole of the Latin American and Caribbean region because the lack of human security has a direct negative impact on prospects for political, social and economic development in a region where the EU is a major partner.
The regional homicide rate is roughly 21.5 per 100,000, more than three times the global average. The map of violent hotspots in LAC is highly correlated with the localization of Latin America’s top 10 criminal groups (especially Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador).
Cocaine trafficking from Latin America is the biggest organised crime threat that exists in that region. Drug trafficking relies heavily on illicit business models, corruption and extortion and such are the volumes of financing and the profit involved that money laundering is an its integral element.
The EU-CELAC Cooperation and Coordination Mechanism on Drugs exists since 1999 and has worked continuously, as a good example of bi-regional sectoral cooperation. The EU adopted in 2014 a Citizen Security Strategy for Central-America and the Caribbean. The 2015 EU-CELAC Summit added the Chapter on Citizen Security to the bi-regional cooperation. The support to the Mechanism will be provided under the flagship regional EU project on drugs (COPOLAD III) until 2025.
The flagship regional programme on Citizen Security and Rule of Law “EL PAcCTO" was launched in April 2017 and provides an overarching umbrella that ensures effective complementarity with other instruments and programmes. It provides technical assistance and sharing of best practices to the entire criminal chain from an integral perspective (police, justice and penitentiary).
The trans-regional Global Illicit Flows Programme (former Cocaine Route Programme - which also includes Africa) support the fight against organised crime on trans-regional illicit routes, be it in relation to narcotics and the movement of pre-cursor chemicals, illicit arms trafficking, wildlife crime, or illicit financial flows.
EUROFRONT is the EU’s innovative regional programme supporting Integrated Border Management (IBM) in South America. Its objective is to increase the effectiveness of border management and to provide support to the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants.
In recent years, the EU has also advanced as a security partner in LAC, with Framework and Participation Agreement (FPA) to participate in EU crisis management operations with Chile (2014) and Colombia (2017). Peru has requested to start negotiations of an FPA in 2020 and Brazil has participated in a CSDP mission in Africa. Argentina has also expressed possible renewed interest in such an agreement. The EU conducts justice and security related dialogues with a number of countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico) and CELAC and has projects advancing cooperation on organised crime (El PACCTO), drugs-trafficking (COPOLAD), the trans-regional Global Illicit Flows Programme and EUROFRONT amongst others.
EU Electoral Observation Missions (EOM) play a key and highly recognised role in the region.