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  Félix Peña

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  Regional Integration Observer | Marzo 2010
A Preview of the EU-LAC May 2010 Summit in Madrid


Zentrum für Europäische Integrationsforschung
Center for European Integration Studies.

Complete versión of the Regional Integration Observer (Vol. 4 No.1 - March 2010)

Universität Bonn

“Towards a new phase of the bi-regional association: innovation and technology for sustainable development and social inclusion” is the central theme of the 6th Summit between the European Union (EU) and Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) countries that takes place in Madrid next May 18th.

After a ten-year experience with mixed results, which began at the 1999 Rio de Janeiro Summit, Madrid could be a unique opportunity to adapt to new global and regional realities with the goals, agenda and working methods of these bi-regional transatlantic relations.

The world, EU and LAC are very different today from what they were when the original idea for a strategic bi-regional association was launched making adaptation necessary. It is necessary to conceive the new phase with a pragmatic vision of the future and to draw concrete and very fl exible action plans for the next ten years (2010-2020). But assuming that there are strong reasons for cooperation, emphasis should be placed more on defi ning how to work together on priority issues of interest for both regions.

In particular, on some of the diffi culties that have been faced in the last ten years.

These diffi culties may account for the meager results obtained until now as a result of diversities and asymmetries that exist between the forms of organization of both regional geographic spaces.

On the one hand, in Europe there is a relatively solid institutional construction with a great potential for irreversibility, in spite of the diffi culties that have become manifest by the differentiated effects of the global fi nancial crisis. While, in LAC the integrations efforts are still fragmented and precarious. On many issues, the region does not speak with a common voice.

Still, it is possible some of the outstanding issues in the transatlantic bi-regional relationship could be resolved before or during the Madrid Summit. These include the association agreement between the EU and Central American countries and the negotiations with some if not all the member countries of the Andean Community. These would add to the existing agreements with Chile and Mexico. The EU has also concluded a strategic alliance agreement with Brazil that does not include commercial preferences but encompasses a wide spectrum of joint actions. Even if it has not yet been possible to fi nalize the bi-regional association agreement between the EU and Mercosur, both sides have recently signalized their intention to advance in their negotiations during this year.

The main issues of the bi-regional agenda, however, go beyond the preferential trade negotiations. They are related to some of the issues that demand collective answers at the global level, such as those of climate change and the environment; reform of international fi nancial institutions; conditions for the integration of transnational production chains; food safety; new sources of energy; migrations, and collective security, among others.

Additionally, new non-preferential modalities should be included in the future
bi-regional agenda as well. These would include for example, cooperation to increase trade and investment fl ows; fi nancial support for infrastructure projects to improve the quality of the physical connections among markets, and joint projects in the fi eld of innovation and technology for sustainable development and social inclusion – the last one being the main theme of the Madrid Summit. Some of those issues are included in the main proposals presented last September to the EU Commission through a Communication on “The European Union and Latin America: Global Players in Partnership”.

Félix Peña Director of the Institute of International Trade at the ICBC Foundation. Director of the Masters Degree in International Trade Relations at Tres de Febrero National University (UNTREF). Member of the Executive Committee of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Member of the Evian Group Brains Trust. More information. |

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