Spain defends the EU-CELAC Summit as a platform for strengthening the strategic partnership between the two regions

President's News - 2023.7.18

The President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, today addressed the plenary session of the EU-CELAC Summit, on the second day of a high-level meeting that took place in Brussels on 17 and 18 July, and which had not been held since 2015. Eight years on, this event marks the reunion of two regions, two continents, which share common interests and are linked by deep historical, economic, cultural, linguistic and emotional ties. The summit was well attended by both the EU and CELAC countries, reflecting the political value that both blocs have attributed to this meeting.

One of the priorities of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU is to defend the need to build strengthened and strategic partnerships with like-minded actors, such as Latin America and the Caribbean, vis-à-vis asymmetrical dependencies in key sectors. These dependencies have been highlighted by events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian aggression against Ukraine. In this regard, the Spanish presidency will focus on analysing and trying to reduce vulnerabilities, with the aim of promoting synergies and guaranteeing the diversification of bi-regional trade flows, which contribute to the double green and digital transition.

Among the main results of this summit was the adoption of a joint declaration with which the leaders have set themselves the objective of relaunching the regular EU-CELAC high-level political dialogue, including biennial EU-CELAC summits, a meeting of foreign ministers in the years between summits, and a permanent coordination mechanism to ensure follow-up between meetings. The document also includes a commitment to improve coordination and cooperation in multilateral fora, in areas of common interest, and to achieve progress on pending trade agreements between the EU and the region. In the declaration, both regions have shown their commitment to the fight against climate change, the Paris Agreement, the 2030 Agenda and international development cooperation.

The leaders also approved the EU-CELAC Roadmap 2023-2025, which details the steps to be taken over the next two years. A clear example of this is the EU-CELAC meeting of economy ministers to be held in September in Santiago de Compostela.

Furthermore, this summit has managed to give an important political boost to the modernisation of the network of trade agreements in both regions, and has highlighted that for the Spanish presidency and during the course of the rest of the year, it is a priority to continue working to achieve the ratification of the EU's agreements with Chile and Mexico. As for the EU-Mercosur agreement, the meeting provided political impetus on both sides to accelerate the negotiation of the Joint Environmental Protection Instrument, and to reach an agreement in the coming months. In this regard, Spain's presidency of the Council will continue to work intensively in this direction.

In the field of economic relations, the launch of the EU-Latin America Digital Alliance, the memoranda of understanding on energy signed with Argentina and Uruguay and the agreement on the joint development of critical raw materials signed with Chile have also taken place. All these initiatives show the EU's willingness to partner with Latin American countries for the sustainable exploitation and creation of local value chains from the raw materials available in the Latin American region.

Last, and notably, this summit leaves behind an indisputable outcome: the Global Gateway Investment Agenda presented yesterday at the Business Forum. It is a representative list of projects and initiatives in key sectors such as energy, transport, infrastructure, digital, health, education and research, to be implemented by the private sector and financially supported by multilateral and national institutions. In this context, the President of the European Commission yesterday announced Europe's commitment to invest €45 billion to implement Global Gateway projects. It should be recalled that Spain was the first country to commit up to €9.4 billion. These are public resources which, in turn, will mobilise many more resources from the private sector and Multilateral Development Banks.

In the margins of this summit, and thanks to the impetus of the Spanish presidency, the green light was given to the signing of the post-Cotonou agreement. After years of negotiation, and two and a half years since initialling, it will be possible to start work on the development of a renewed partnership agreement between the EU and 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. This is an essential agreement for the cooperation of these 79 countries and the EU in the areas of human and social development, sustainable economic growth, environmental sustainability and migration and mobility.

This third EU-CELAC Summit was an opportunity for two close and compatible regions to speak frankly about the major global challenges they both face today. In this regard, this meeting between the two regions is for Spain a platform for momentum and renewed political commitment. Our country wanted the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU to use this summit to unite all the countries present through a common agenda that would strategically revitalise this partnership.

Non official translation