With the recent global crises caused by Covid-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the world has entered a new era. Chancellor Olaf Scholz rightly used the word “Zeitenwende”, which means “turning point”. The tectonic plates of geopolitics are shifting, as are European values of democracy. Rule of law and human rights are threatened by autocratic regimes.
In the face of such profound changes, the European Union (EU) needs to be more assertive. We must make a positive proposal that convinces our international partners that together we can promote a model of sustainable social, environmental and economic development.
The EU offer creates lasting connections and strengthens strategic autonomy. Does not create or deepen dependency relationships
In the second half of 2023, Spain will take over the rotating Presidency of the European Council. This will play a crucial role in revitalizing EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. It’s time to face reality. For too long we have taken for granted this strong partnership, rooted in deep historical and cultural ties. That needs to change.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez Pérez-Castejón about the priorities of the Spanish Presidency. I am impressed by Spain’s ambition and commitment to Latin America and the Caribbean. Spain participates in almost all major initiatives for the region as part of Global Gateway, the EU’s global investment strategy.
This strategy is the sustainable and reliable alternative that the EU is offering its partners today to drive the twin technological and green transitions and address the global infrastructure deficit. Not all partnership/collaboration proposals are created equal. The EU offer creates lasting connections and strengthens strategic autonomy. No dependency relationships are created or deepened. And it is anchored in high social and environmental standards. These are our values.
Infrastructure investments are at the heart of current geopolitics. Recent events have highlighted the fragility of the global supply chain and underscored the need for a transition to more sustainable growth models. Global Gateway is an important part of the G7 initiative known as the Global Partnership for Infrastructure Investment (PGII).
In addition to the physical infrastructure, Global Gateway also focuses on the areas of health, education, research and skills development. The EU offer clearly adds value to the social agenda to create decent jobs, boost vocational training to adapt it to the professions of the future, strengthen civil society and promote gender equality and youth empowerment.
The European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean are already cooperating at various levels with programs such as BELLA in the digital field; EUROSOCIAL+ to promote social cohesion; and EUROCLIMA in the area of environment. In the coming months we will work together to further strengthen our intense collaboration and partnership.
EU companies are very present in Latin America and the Caribbean, thanks to them the EU is the leading foreign investor in the region, ahead of the US and China.
Next summer we will take the next big step with the celebration of the EU-CELAC summit – the last summit was held in June 2015 in Brussels. This meeting provides a unique opportunity to discuss the investment agenda for the region in the Global Gateway priority areas. Renewable energy, raw materials, joint investment in vaccine manufacturing, and increasing the scale of digital connectivity to include remote populations or areas are key elements of this plan.
In recent decades, cooperation between the EU and Latin America has mainly developed within the framework of bilateral or regional agreements focused on cooperation and trade. With this bi-regional strategy, we can strengthen our ties and expand our connections in a more coherent and structured way.
The private sector is key. EU companies are very present in Latin America and the Caribbean: they are leaders in many sectors and a source of innovation. Thanks to them, the EU is the leading foreign investor in the region, ahead of the US and China. Therefore, the investment agenda that Latin America and the Caribbean have on the table represents a major opportunity within the Global Gateway.
In other words, the EU will work to train and empower its partners in Latin America and the Caribbean to become more resilient and from there confront the inequality that remains the main problem of the region where we work together want . Strategic autonomy is just as important to our partners as it is to us.
Jutta Urpilainen She is Commissioner of the International Associations of the European Union.
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