The representatives of the European Union (EU) and the 33 countries that make up the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will meet starting this Monday, July 17, in Brussels. It will be two days of delayed meetings for more than eight years, marked this time by an international context that is not conducive to big agreements.
The divergences of Latin Americans about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hinder the necessary consensus for a final document. While countries such as Argentina, Chile or Uruguay condemn Moscow without nuances, others maintain a middle line, such as Mexico and Brazil, or open support for Vladimir Putin’s warmongering strategy, such as Nicaragua and Venezuela.
CELAC is more of a policy coordination group than an organized bloc. As decisions are made by consensus, dry topics are avoided. Latin American presidents who travel to Brussels will arrive with a variety of issues marked by global but also local demands. A review of the positions of the largest countries in the region gives an idea of this.
The new Mexican Foreign Secretary, Alicia Bárcena, goes to Brussels for the CELAC and EU summit. This is her first multilateral forum since she took office a month ago. The chancellor has detailed that in the meeting the Latin American countries seek an agreement for the use of the global gateway o Global Agreement, an investment mechanism of 10,000 million euros that Europe wants to place in Latin America in the coming years. “CELAC countries want to have greater decision-making power over where European investments go”, Bárcena commented. For Mexico, this plan includes clean energy, finance and biotechnology projects.
At the same time, Mexico is on the way to renewing its free trade agreement with the EU, in force since 2000. A month ago, the president of the European Commission, Úrsula von der Leyen, visited the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, with whom she agreed accelerate the signing and ratification of the new trade agreement. Bárcena has recognized that the economic agenda with Europe is one of the priorities of this relationship.
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The Mexican foreign minister has also revealed that the Latin American countries want to include in the final declaration of the summit, which is still under negotiation, a mention to condemn the economic blockade that the United States maintains against Cuba. López Obrador has insisted from CELAC on defending the island against the measures of the Americans. By sonia corona
The Brazil of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reaches the summit with the desire to emphasize its profile as a power in matters related to the environment and the energy transition, with enormous interest in the debate on the reform of the international financial architecture and with a central role in the negotiations to unblock the ratification of the trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU. Lula confirmed his attendance on the 5th, after talking by phone with his counterpart Pedro Sánchez. The Spanish presidency of the EU coincides with the Brazilian one at the head of Mercosur.
It is probable that Lula wants to take advantage of the meeting in Brussels to present himself as a regional leader before the Europeans. The Brazilian president considers a blow under the environmental requirements incorporated by the EU into the trade agreement agreed in 2019, in the time of Jair Bolsonaro. AND He told it in very explicit terms to the president of the commission, Ursula von der Leyen, during her visit to Brasilia in June: “The premise that must exist between strategic partners is mutual trust, and not mistrust and sanctions.” Brazil has ready a draft reply to these new demands that it will shortly submit to its partners in the South American bloc with which it must prepare a common response to the EU.
Weaving the agreement is a filigree work that is still not clear if the meeting of the leaders will be able to promote it. For now, Lula does not have bilateral meetings planned with the leaders of France or Ireland, the most reticent, although he will participate in a parallel summit of progressive leaders with the leaders of Sweden, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Portugal, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Denmark and Spain. By Naiara Galarraga Gortazar
The representation of Colombia is headed by the president himself, Gustavo Petro, who intends to put back on the table the main flags that his Government has raised during the year it has been in power: total peace with the different armed groups, Latin America as a power in clean energy or his proposal to exchange debt for concrete climate actions, which has led to various international summits, including the World Economic Forum in Davos. The environmental discourse that the Colombian president has cultivated since his time in exile in Belgium insists on the need to decarbonise economies and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
The presence of Petro, who has deployed intense diplomatic activity in favor of regional integration, becomes more relevant after Colombia’s candidacy to preside over CELAC in 2025 became known, with which it would be the host of the next summit. The president also landed in Brussels with the relief that the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled last Thursday in favor of Colombia in a long maritime dispute in the Caribbean Sea with Nicaragua, a swampy terrain for South American diplomacy, which Despite some false starts, he has joined the chorus of criticism of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Petro is accompanied by Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva, the Minister of Commerce, Germán Umaña, and the Minister of Mines, Irene Vélez. By santiago torrado
Argentina left the pro tempore presidency of CELAC in January, since it had made the trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU its priority in the relationship with Brussels. The trade block that it integrates with Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay has that agreement stalled for years due to the new environmental demands of Europe, and Argentina’s annoyance is increasingly evident. Two weeks ago, at a bloc summit that rejected the new European demands, Fernández criticized that the EU proposal is “excessively focused on the environment, with no record of the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economic and social”.
The coincidence of a presidency of Brazil in Mercosur and Spain in the EU opens a window of opportunity for the agreement in the next six months, but in Argentina there is no optimism with which the summit on Monday will kick off: with the EU focused on some Latin American declaration on the war in Ukraine, and CELAC with its own economic agenda, each block arrives with different priorities.
The summit will be the last international appointment of Alberto Fernández as president of Argentina. The president heads the mission in Brussels between weeks of light agenda. With almost 70% disapproval, he has given up seeking re-election, and the bulk of his Cabinet decisions are in the hands of his Economy Minister, Sergio Massa, who will be the candidate of the Peronist ruling party in October. By Jose Pablo Criales
This is the first tour to Europe for left-wing Chilean President Gabriel Boric. A trip in which, in addition to participating in the CELAC-EU Summit, he will visit Spain, France and Switzerland.
The president, questioned by the Chilean right due to the crisis his Administration is experiencing due to the Agreements Case, seeks to strengthen foreign investment in his country. Boric has gone with his foreign minister, Alberto van Klaveren; of Science, Aisén Etcheverry; of Energy, Diego Pardow, and of Economy, Nicolás Grau. The delegation is also made up of a business committee made up of seven women, including the president of the Factory Development Society (Sofofa), Rosario Navarro; the vice president of the Confederation of Production and Commerce (CPC), Susana Jiménez, and the president of Unapyme, Gianina Figueroa.
One of Chile’s main goals at the summit is sustainable development. Boric will have bilateral appointments with heads of state from America and Europe, and he already has requests from several countries, including Denmark, Finland and Greece. In addition, he will meet King Philippe of Belgium.
Days before the trip, Foreign Minister van Klaveren said that for Chile “it is essential to be present at the highest level, because we are about to sign an agreement with the European Union that means very relevant benefits for the country from the commercial point of view and economic”, alluding to the modernization of the agreement with the EU, the Advanced Framework Agreement, which is expected to be signed this year. By Ana Maria Sanhueza
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