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
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
Additionally, new non-preferential modalities should be included in the
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.