NewsBetween mistrust and the need for bi-regional integration: what to expect from...

    Between mistrust and the need for bi-regional integration: what to expect from the EU-Celac summit

    On both sides of the Atlantic there are high expectations for the III Summit of Heads of State and Government between the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), scheduled for July 17 and 18 in Brussels , Belgium.

    the meetingwhich will be the first high-level one since 2015, intends to relaunch bi-regional relations in a context that is particularly imperative for the European bloc, struggling to recover positions lost in the last decade vis-à-vis other players, especially China.

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    For its part, Latin America and the Caribbean is trying to make its way into high international spheres as a unified bloc, with its own voice and outside of diatribes between global powers.

    late recapture

    Although during the last semester the EU has embarked on a diplomatic offensive in the Latin American and Caribbean region, and has openly expressed its interest in strengthening ties and taking concrete steps towards integration, things do not seem to be going as expected.

    Rather, the most recent reports reveal important obstacles whose solution does not seem to be simple or quick, but which it is nevertheless imperative to address, since failure to do so would significantly compromise the success of the meeting and of the EU’s plans.

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    The ultimate cause of the disagreements seems to reside in the fact that, despite Brussels, CELAC countries are not willing to be treated as a second-order interlocutor nor to subordinate its agenda to the priorities of European countries in any area.

    The commercial agreement that has not been signed yet

    The Trade Agreement between Mercosur and the EU appears as one of the most visible points of the dispute in the bi-regional relationship, because it drags on two decades of negotiations that have not resulted in a satisfactory conclusion.

    The pact, which has been defined as a priority by both parties, is going through a new crisis, after the remarks made by presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (Brazil) and Alberto Fernandez (Argentina) on substantive aspects in the EU claims that would disadvantage South American countries.

    “I am crazy to make the agreement with the EU, but it is not possible: the additional protocol made by the EU does not allow the agreement to be made,” Lula said on a recent visit to Paris. He was alluding to the demands of France, which involve the modification of the chapter on trade and sustainable development to incorporate new environmental regulations, under pain of receiving sanctions.

    For his part, Fernandez held the EU responsible for the delays in signing the agreement, for imposing in 2019 practices that, in his opinionthey are “unequal”“protectionists” and they are detrimental to the food sector, a strategic export item within Mercosur.

    Thus, although Da Silva promised to use his ‘pro tempore’ presidency – which expires in December 2023 – to comprehensively review the conditions of the pact and successfully conclude the process, there is still a long way to go that does not depend on South American wishes but rather decisions in the EU.

    Disagreements around Ukraine

    Another point of tension between the EU and Celac is the conflict in Ukraine, because while the first block has supported Kiev militarily, diplomatically and financially, the second has decided to remain neutral.

    In particular, several nations –including Mexico, Colombia and Brazil– have refused to send weapons to the front, even when the US has publicly asked them to, while CELAC has unanimously advocated for a peaceful and satisfactory solution to the parties involved, regardless of the level of the relationship of some nations with Russia.

    However, Brussels wanted to take advantage of the fact that it will host the summit between leaders of the two continents to promote an agenda favorable to Ukrainian interests, which caused rejection among the Latin American and Caribbean delegations.

    According to the Euroactiv portal, last June, the EU sent Celac a proposal for a final declaration that included support tickets for Ukraine based on resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly.

    However, the attempt was rejected and returned with a counterproposal specifying that the two blocks would bet on “serious and constructive diplomatic solutions to the current conflict in Europe“, through “peaceful means” that guarantee the sovereignty, the security of those involved and contribute to “regional and international peace”.

    Subsequently, the Ukrainian president, Vladimir Zelenski, confirmed in an interview with Spanish media that several members of Celac had opposed their participation at the bi-regional summit with the EU, to which he had been invited by the current president of the bloc, Pedro Sanchez.

    To date, it seems evident that it will be practically impossible to agree on a position that encompasses two positions as antagonistic as those that prevail around the Ukrainian question, although certainly the scenario may lend itself to the Latin American and Caribbean bloc presenting a comprehensive peace initiative, that includes the concerns and impulses advanced by some of its Member States since the hostilities began.

    Environment and renewable energy

    The list of issues of common interest between the EU and CELAC includes environmental issues, since the Latin American and Caribbean region is home to the largest tropical forests on the planet, important freshwater reserves and numerous animal and plant species, which are of great value in the context of climate change.

    On the other hand, while it is true that the US is advancing militarization strategies in the Amazon with the stated purpose of protecting the vegetal lung, together with nations such as Brazil or Colombia, it is also regional work is being done to curb logging and stop mining and other illegal practices through the active presence of States in remote areas.

    In this regard, next August a summit of Amazonian countries will be held in Belem do Para (Brazil) to seek “shared solutions” to common problems, although some goals have already been defined, such as eliminating deforestation by 2030.

    This matter is one of the flags of the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, who, on the other hand, was unanimously selected as president ‘pro tempore’ of Celac in 2025.

    In parallel, the goals of progressive decarbonization and clean energy production that allow the replacement of fossil fuel in the medium and long term in the EU countries travel.

    The Latin American and Caribbean region haslike no other area in the world, of the two types of resources: hydrocarbons and alternative energy sourcesso it is clearly in the crosshairs of Brussels in the face of the transition, which according to experts, will take at least five decades to materialize.

    Within this line are the exploitation of lithium and green hydrogen, two of the issues addressed by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in mid-June, during her official visit to Santiago de Chile.

    “Chile is a very important lithium supplier to the rest of the world, including Europe. The demand for lithium will grow significantly because we are working to decarbonise the economy,” Von der Leyen said then.

    Chile, Argentina and Bolivia make up the so-called “lithium triangle”, which houses 60% of the mineral reserves, but they lack a common exploitation policywhich makes it difficult to adopt shared positions in the framework of events such as the upcoming EU-Celac summit and opens the way for bilateral rather than bi-regional associations to be privileged.

    political tensions

    Frictions between the EU and Celac also extend to the political level. The Governments of Cuba and Venezuela denounced that Brussels exhibits opaque and “manipulative” behaviorwhich puts the success of the joint meeting at “serious risk”, according to statements offered by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez that were seconded by the Venezuelan authorities.

    To this is added that, recently, Caracas openly rejected and described as “colonialist rhetoric” the pronouncements attributed to the high representative of the EU for Foreign Policy and Security, Josep Borrell, in relation to the disqualification of the opposition member Maria Corina Machado for acts of corruption.

    This July 12, the European Parliament called for sanctions against President Miguel Diaz-Canel and other senior officials for the alleged commission of human rights violations, a decision that was protested by the National Assembly of Popular Power of Cuba, which labeled it as “interference” and defamatory.

    The late 'reconquest' of the European Union in Latin America: what to expect from the EU-Celac Summit

    Similarly, the European Parliament voted the following day a resolution condemning the political disqualifications in Venezuela. The National Assembly responded with a resolution rejecting the interference and warned that, henceforth, invitations to the Electoral Observation Mission will not be issued of the bloc for meddling in the internal affairs of the country.

    Zhandra Flores

    Source: RT

    This post is posted by Awutar staff members. Awutar is a global multimedia website. Our Email: [email protected]


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