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  Félix Peña

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por Félix Peña
July 2023


The Real Instituto Elcano of Spain has advanced a concrete idea that, if incorporated into the bi-regional scenario, could contribute to the effectiveness of the joint work that could be developed between the European Union and Latin America.

It involves the creation of an EU-Latin America Trade and Technology Council (EU-LAC TTC). Something similar exists between the EU and the United States, and also between the EU and India.

The proposal contained in the report puts forward some good ideas on the functions that such a Council could undertake. It points out that it should be designed as a high-level executive bilateral forum, with a pragmatic and results-oriented approach. According to the report this would be "excellent starting point and a unique platform for organizing the bilateral relationship between the two regions, including the search for strategic agreements to address global challenges".

The Presidency of the European Union by Spain, which will be exercised in the
second half of 2023, provides an opportunity to advance practical and concrete ideas that could strengthen the goal of establishing a special strategic relationship with Latin America.

In this regard, a prestigious Spanish institution, the Real Instituto Elcano, has just
published a report entitled “¿Por qué importa América Latina?” (“Why does Latin America matter"), which contains concrete proposals that may contribute to the advancement of the strategic relationship between the European and Latin American regions (the full report can be found on; see also the article by one of the authors, Carlos Malamud, published under the same title on pages 4 and 5 of the section El Observador of Perfil newspaper on July 9, 2023).

The mentioned report of the Real Instituto Elcano advances an idea that deserves
much attention: the need to create an EU-Latin America Trade and Technology Council (EU-LAC TTC). The report includes sound proposals about the functions that such a Council could undertake. It also points out that it should be designed as a high-level bilateral forum and, as such, it could provide an excellent starting point and a unique platform to organize the bilateral relationship between the two regions, including the search for strategic agreements to address global challenges. A similar forum already exists in the EU - US trade relations and in the case of the EU and India. Furthermore, the report states that a TTC would constitute an important milestone in the relations between the EU and our region, taking them to a higher level, and thus deepening their strategic commitment (see

In this sense, the Mercosur presidential meeting held in Puerto Iguazú at the beginning of July, highlighted the importance of institutional mechanisms that can be effective for the development of the idea of joint work among the member countries of an economic integration process. Once again, the meeting revealed the differences of opinion at the highest level of the member countries regarding Uruguay´s approach to its possible bilateral trade agreement with China.

A webinar held on July 6 and organized by the Universidad de la República del
Uruguay also advanced concrete ideas aimed at strengthening the capacity for joint work among the countries of the South American region. The meeting was chaired by Professor Nelson Villareal Durán, and included the participation of Félix Peña as speaker, and Enrique Iglesias, Carlos Ominami and Rita Coitinho as commentator (the video of the meeting can be accessed on In our keynote presentation, we addressed certain issues aimed at facilitating the debate on the construction of regional integration in the South American space and taking into account possible bi-regional developments, for example with the European Union.

The topics included the following:

  • there are several concrete experiences in the Latin American region in terms of regional integration. Some have failed, others are fledgling;

  • the methods employed would need to be adapted to new realities. They may not always require amendments to their institutional covenants;

  • models from other regions have been eroded, or theoretical approaches formulated in realities that are quite different from those that currently prevail in the world and even in each distinct region;

  • in the South American space, there is currently no formal process of in-depth
    integration encompassing all of the twelve countries of the region;

  • the construction of such a process is a challenge that requires, simultaneously, a significant dose of strategic vision, political leadership and civil society participation;

  • the possibility for building a space of deeper integration has three conditions that work in its favor and that are present in the current South American space:

    • to be considered as a "peace zone" in terms of nuclear weaponry;

    • to exhibit multiple diversities;

    • to be endowed with valuable natural and cultural resources.

  • Finally, as a conclusion, if the current institutional map of the South American
    space is properly utilized, it could facilitate the gradual creation of favorable conditions for the development of a deep integration process that encompasses the
    entire region.

Recommended reading:

  • Caballlero-Anthony, Mely, “Reclaiming ASEAN’s comprehensive and
    cooperative security”, East Asia Forum, June 13, 2023.
  • Fernandez de Soto, Guillermo; Rugeles, Andrés, ”América Latina-Unión
    Europea: de la indiferencia a una asociación estratégica”, newspaper El
    Tiempo, Bogota, July 4, 2023.
  • Hamilton-Hart, Natasha, “Geopolitical challenges to Southeast Asian
    development strategies”, East Asia Forum, June 5, 2023.
  • Hufbauer, Gary Clyde, “Washington’s turn to neo-mercantilism”, East Asia
    Forum, June 4, 2023.
  • Ishihara, Yusuke, “Japan’s grand strategy as a declining power”, East Asia
    Forum, June 18, 2023.
  • Magnus, George, “Asia´s demographic growing pains”, East Asia Forum, June 25, 2023.
  • Malamud, Carlos; Ruiz, Juan José; Talvi, Ernesto (eds.), “Por qué importa
    América Latina”, Real Instituto Elcano, Report 32, Madrid, June 2023.
  • Mulder, Nicholas, “Asian economic heft keeps Russia’s economy afloat”, East Asia Forum, June 11, 2023.
  • Pastori Fillol, Alejandro, “Aspectos jurídicos del acuerdo Mercosur-Unión
    Europea”, Rev.Sec.Trib.Perm., year 10, number 19, 2022
  • Peña, Félix, “Hay que renovar los métodos en los procesos de integración
    sudamericana”, Foreign Trade Supplement of La Nación newspaper, June 8
    2023, p. 3.
  • Peña, Félix, “El espacio sudamericano como construcción de la importante
    integración regional”, Foreign Trade Supplement of La Nación newspaper,
    June 6, 2023, p. 3.
  • Reinsch, William A.; Benson, Emily, “US chipping away at global
    semiconductor supply chain”, East Asia Forum, June 14, 2023.
  • Voon, Tania, “Testing the limits of WTO security exceptions”, East Asia Forum, June 13, 2023.
  • Wetsland, Tom, The false logic of sanctions as deterrents”, East Asia Forum,
    10 June 10, 2023.

Félix Peña es Director del Instituto de Comercio Internacional de la Fundación ICBC; Director de la Maestría en Relaciones Comerciales Internacionales de la Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (UNTREF); Miembro del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI). Miembro del Brains Trust del Evian Group. Ampliar trayectoria. |

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