Latin America/Caribbean/European Union: First Summit / Declaration of Rio de Janeiro /PRIORITIES FOR ACTION

Press Release: Brussels (29-06-1999) - Nr. (Presse )


We, the Heads of State and Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and of the European Union, meeting in the city of Rio de Janeiro on 28th and 29th June, 1999, have decided to advance in the consolidation of a strategic partnership of a political, economic, cultural and social and co-operative character between both regions which contr.ibutes towards the development of each of our countries, as well as towards the achievement of better levels of social and economic well-being for our peoples, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by an ever more globalised world, in a spirit of equality, respect, alliance and co-operation.

We agree that the priorities for action are based on a common commitment to representative democracy, the rule of law, good governance, pluralism and social development including a more equitable distribution of wealth and opportunities and to a harmonious integration into the global economy.

We have therefore decided to strengthen the dialogue between governments at all levels and with organisations from the civil society, with the aim of ensuring the achievement of the objectives of development and strengthening the rule of law in both regions. In this context, we will strengthen mechanisms to guarantee the fulfilment of the laws of both regions, as well as transparency and accountability, especially in the use of public resources.

We have also decided that the Biregional Group, at the level of Senior Officials, established by the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro, will monitor the actions contained in this document.

Taking this into account, as well as the principles and commitments contained in the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro, we will promote the following:


In the political field:

  1. Promote closer co-operation and exchange of points of view in international fora on matters of common interest. Work jointly for the improvement of the capability of the United Nations Organisation to respond in an ever more effective manner to its tasks in the new millennium, with full respect for the objectives and principles of the Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations 50 years ago. We will co-ordinate biregional efforts to guarantee that the Millennium Assembly develops in such a way that the Organisation is strengthened.
  2. Formulate programmes of co-operation aimed at further strengthening the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as training programmes to support offices and institutions for human rights, such as those involved in protecting the rights of the more vulnerable groups of society. We support specific training programmes aiming to promote tangible steps forward in this field. Likewise, we will promote programmes to disseminate humanitarian law.
  3. Design and put into practice joint programmes and adopt national measures to prevent and combat xenophobia, manifestations of racism and other related forms of intolerance, as well as to promote and protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups of society, especially children, youth, disabled persons, indigenous peoples and migrant workers and their families.
  4. Adopt programmes and projects in the twelve priority areas identified in the Fourth World Conference of Women (Beijing, 1995), through mechanisms of financial and technical co-operation, with prior identification of actions of common interest with a biregional dimension. The gender aspect will be taken into account as a basis for all co-operation programmes.
  5. Work towards the modernisation of the structure of our respective States, in particular with regard to electoral systems, the administration of justice, the tax systems and the budgetary policies as mechanisms for the redistribution of wealth and revenues generated by economic development. We encourage dialogue on the matter.
  6. Invite actors of civil society to participate in the implementation of joint initiatives between Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union. We therefore regard co-operation between the public sector and civil society as positive and recognise the relevant role of decentralised co-operation programmes. We agree to co-operate closely and exchange knowledge and experience in the field of reforming social security.
  7. Encourage parliamentary contacts between both regions.

  8. Welcome in particular the activities of various fora in the context of the preparation of the Summit.
  9. Recalling the successful conferences on Security and Confidence Building Measures, underline the need to continue regular dialogue on security issues between the European Union and the Rio Group.
  10. Promote the signing or ratification of instruments in the field of disarmament and prohibition of certain particularly inhumane weapons, including the conventions on chemical and biological weapons; the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Also, support negotiations currently in progress, in particular in the Conference on Disarmament.
  11. Welcome the entry into force, on 1st March 1999, of the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APL) and on their destruction and emphasise the importance of full and speedy implementation of the Convention. We call on all States to join efforts to achieve the total elimination of APL world-wide and agree to attach high priority to efforts dealing with the suffering and destruction caused by their use.
  12. Continue to provide technical and financial co-operation through mine action programmes, with particular attention to Central American countries.
  13. Emphasise the fact that a serious challenge to the international community is raised by the combination of conflicts with the uncontrolled dissemination of small arms. In this context, we welcome the Joint Action of the European Union on combating the destabilising accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons, as well as the Inter-American Convention to Combat the Illegal Production and Traffic of Firearms, Munitions, Explosives and other Related Materials, and underline our determination to co-operate closely in this field.
  14. Co-operate in the fight against transnational organised crime and related criminal activities, work for the elaboration of instruments against corruption, as well as actively promote the implementation of the international conventions on the matter, and also increase collaboration between our governments.
  15. Intensify international co-operation to combat terrorism, based on the principles established in the framework of the United Nations Organisation. To this end we will work together to advance in the signing and ratification of the conventions and protocols of the UN and to strengthen the international legal framework on the subject, supporting the elaboration of instruments to fight terrorism.
  16. Support projects for the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, especially those which contribute to overcoming poverty, marginalisation and social exclusion, to modifying patterns of production and consumption, and to promoting the conservation of biological diversity. Special importance will be attached to promoting the sectors likely to generate productive employment.
  17. Reaffirm our commitments to implement the Rio Convention on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Desertification and to promote actions oriented towards the early application of the Mechanism for Clean Development foreseen in the Kyoto Protocol. We resolve to co-operate and exchange experience in the field of preserving forests world-wide through sound economic exploitation in line with the principles of sustainable development. Close attention will be paid to projects dealing with a more rational use of energy, the development of renewable energy sources and solving the problems of industrial and urban pollution. We resolve to exchange experiences in the field of soil productivity loss and management of arid ecosystems. We stress the successful co-operation between the European Union and the Brazilian Government in implementing the "International Pilot Programme to Conserve the Brazilian Rain Forests" (PPG7), as a promising strategic alliance. We underline the importance of education on environmental protection for the implementation of Agenda 21 and agree to co-operate closely in this respect.
  18. Put into practice programmes of co-operation in the field of environmental and natural disasters, with the aim of contributing to the improvement of the capabilities of the more vulnerable countries of both regions to prevent and respond to disasters; to set up an adequate system to take advantage of international aid for the phases of prevention, early warning, emergency, mitigation, rehabilitation and reconstruction. This co-operation will include the elaboration of a directory of responsible national civil-protection organisations, the integration of an inventory of existing resources for disaster relief, and the drafting of a handbook of guidelines for international co-operation in case of disaster.
  19. Promote the complete application of the objectives of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction, and of the Programmes for Disaster Preparation, Mitigation and Prevention of the Department of Humanitarian Aid of the European Community (EC DIPECHO), executed in Central America and the Caribbean.
  20. Appreciate the active role that civil society is playing for the relief and reconstruction work in Central America, as recognised in the Stockholm Declaration of 28th May 1999.
  21. Endorse the implementation envisaged in the Panama Comprehensive Action Plan for European Union/Latin America Counter-Drugs Assistance including interregional co-operation with the Caribbean as an important part of the priorities for action.
  22. Welcome the results of the XIV European Union-Latin America Interparliamentary Conference (16th—18th March, 1999), in particular the message relating to the Institute for Relations between Europe and Latin America (IRELA), and consider the recommendations of the members of parliament of both regions in this respect.
  23. In the economic field:

  24. Promote joint action in international economic co-operation. In the World Trade Organisation, we will ensure the full implementation of the results of the Uruguay Round and agree on the launching of a new comprehensive and mutually beneficial round of multilateral trade negotiations.
  25. Strengthen our economic and trade relations, taking maximum advantage of existing trade agreements between our regions and working for the establishment of new ones.
  26. Hold high-level consultations to exchange points of view and to agree on positions in multilateral efforts in appropriate fora, including those in the United Nations system, oriented towards the establishment of mechanisms that promote a stable and dynamic global economic and financial system, as a way to prevent crises in the future, and should they occur, to ensure their effective and swift solution.
  27. Formulate, in the framework of our consultations, proposals of biregional co-operation directed to strengthening national financial systems and developing mechanisms of monitoring and regulation in order to implement international best standards and practices.
  28. Create specific programmes to support economically relatively less-developed countries by establishing training fora and stimulating productive investment and adequate conditions of financing, including effective national and global measures to resolve the problems generated by excessive levels of debt.
  29. Call on the business communities of Latin America and the Caribbean and of the European Union to meet periodically in a Business Forum, with the aim of analysing matters of common interest and, where appropriate, presenting conclusions and recommendations for the consideration of governments. Such a Forum, whose starting point could be the promotion of biregional electronic networks of business associations, could be enriched with existing initiatives such as the Mercosur/European Union Business Forum and the Multisectoral Business Encounter AL-Partenariat 99 European Union-Mexico-Central America.
  30. Promote a biregional programme of government and business training to foster competitiveness in business and in the negotiating capacity of entrepreneurs, as well as in the search for effective solutions in the area of facilitating business.
  31. Encourage the conclusion of bilateral reciprocal investment promotion and protection agreements and conventions to avoid double taxation and to stimulate initiatives directed towards facilitating and increasing investments between both regions.
  32. Promote programmes and mechanisms to support small and medium enterprises in the fields of financing, including better access to financial guarantees and risk capital, management training, technology and inter-business co-operation, with the aim of raising competitiveness and achieving better insertion into international markets. In particular, to promote joint ventures for the establishment of enterprises in both regions.
  33. Invite the European Investment Bank (EIB) to consider strengthening and broadening its activities in Latin America and the Caribbean and encourage co-financing between European financial institutions and those of Latin America and the Caribbean.
  34. Support the development of national capacities to strengthen and protect intellectual-property rights in all fields, in accordance with the rules established in the framework of the WTO, as an important requisite for increasing trade and investment flows.
  35. Establish a dialogue to study standards and certifications based on current agreements on Technical Barriers to Trade. We will examine the possibility of preparing negotiations for bilateral agreements on mutual recognition of technical standards.
  36. Establish a dialogue to promote customs co-operation and the harmonisation of nomenclature, especially in the field of training, setting up databases and networks of experts, and formulating proposals for possible bilateral co-operation agreements on the subject.
  37. Encourage co-operation and investment for the development of tourism in both regions. We attach special attention to the development and promotion of sustainable tourism, given the need to contribute to the conservation and management of the rich biodiversity of our regions. The active participation of local and indigenous communities, local administration and the private sector in the sustainable development of tourism contributes to regional and local economies.
  38. Reinforce programmes of co-operation in the alternative-energy sector and in energy saving, especially decentralised co-operation - European Community Investment Program (ECIP), América Latina Investment (AL-INVEST), Latin America Rational Use of Energy (ALURE). We will also continue to support relevant programmes.
  39. Promote programmes of co-operation in the field of infrastructure, including transport, and administrative procedures for the liberalisation of trade and the intensification of economic co-operation.
  40. Ensure high-quality legal framework provisions for consumer protection and dialogue between the social partners; encourage the full implementation of international labour conventions.
  41. In the cultural, educational, scientific, technological, social and human fields:

  42. Agree to implement programmes in the areas of health and education in order to combat marginalisation, social exclusion and extreme poverty. Close attention should be paid to the implementation of the recommendations of the World Summit for Social Development of 1995 and to the preparation of the Special Session of the General Assembly in June 2000 to follow up on the Summit.
  43. Strengthen co-operation in the fields of primary, secondary and higher education and design biregional programmes to support compensatory educational policies that contribute to improve the quality of education and the training of teachers, as well as the preparation of human resources, with special emphasis on vocational training and on the use of new technologies applied to education. We highlight the continuous and successful efforts in the last decades by all parties to foster co-operation also through bilingual and bicultural schools.
  44. Firmly support biregional co-operation in the university sector aimed at increasing grants to students and researchers on all levels, as well as broaden post-graduate studies in science and technology, industry and business, the mobility of academics and students and for the processes of accreditation of programmes and the recognition of diplomas. We can look back on an impressive history of co-operation in the university sector, in particular the "América Latina Formación Académica" (ALFA). On both sides we have granted countless scholarships for students and researchers of all levels. These projects will be extended in the future.
  45. Promote co-operation to put to better use the possibilities offered by new technologies and instruments, such as distance education, with the aim of integrating them into national education frameworks, particularly for those people and social groups that do not have access to them.
  46. Special care will be given to promoting the rights of minorities and implementing training schemes which lend value to cultural and linguistic identities. We agree to promote co-operation aimed at enhancing opportunities for capacitation of indigenous populations to participate in the planning and implementation of social and economic development programmes.
  47. Incorporate in educational programmes content that is oriented towards the diffusion of our tangible and intangible cultural heritage, identifying projects of co-operation between the two regions and taking into consideration the cultural offerings which exist on both sides of the Atlantic.
  48. In this respect, for the purpose of lending visibility to and renewing the cultural dialogue between our regions, we will consider the establishment of a European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean cultural forum.
  49. Implement programmes to promote cultural and linguistic identities, sensitising the population to their importance and to the need for their preservation. We will promote, in particular, research in the field of anthropology and culture, exchange of experts and transmission of conservation techniques.
  50. Also agree to continue to provide appropriate support to community instruments such as "Urbs América Latina" (URBAL).
  51. Promote the establishment of a joint initiative in the field of the "information society" on certain priority matters (e.g., electronic trade, industrial technologies and telecommunications, the environment, health, social services and education). Encourage greater co-operation in the field of audio-visual, cinematography and multimedia as well as the organisation and classification of archives and printed matter.
  52. Support the work conducted by the European Union-Latin America Working Group on Scientific and Technological Co-operation and the agreements derived from the IV and V Biregional Conferences held in June and October of 1998 in Madrid and Guatemala, respectively. In this sense, we will establish a working group of representatives of both regions for dialogue and advice on the best way to derive benefit, as concerns future scientific and technical co-operation between Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union, from the possibilities offered in the Fifth Framework Programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities, particularly through co-operation agreements, taking into account the specifics and capacities of the countries concerned, as well as the strategic importance of this sector in our new biregional partnership.
  53. Promote and facilitate initiatives for co-operation and exchange in the field of science and technology. Special attention should be paid to the ties between production processes and scientific and technological research, including the ecological aspects that bear a positive effect on the sustainable development of both regions and their environment.
  54. Give continued priority to the centres of excellence through trans-regional networks comprising institutions of an academic, scientific and technological nature. Within this framework, we undertake to promote the exchange of knowledge, co-operation in joint initiatives and the mobility of students and research workers between equivalent institutions of the respective regions. We also stress the importance of inter-university co-operation in the human, social and scientific fields and the need, inter alia, of a focal point for common research and training of highly qualified personnel, particularly in matters relating to development and integration processes.
  55. Encourage the European Institutes and Institutions for Integration (Bruges, Florence and Maastricht), and the network of academic institutions of all Latin American and Caribbean countries and the European Union Member States, to support activities relating to research, post-graduate studies and training in the field of integration processes.
  56. Strengthen regional integration policies and the development of the internal markets as fundamental growth and stability factors. For this purpose, we will support the adoption of common policies and co-ordinated sectoral approaches with a view to drawing the best advantage from the existing and future policies of trade liberalisation. Special attention will be given to combating cartels and to the creation of suitable legal and fiscal frameworks.
  1. Continue to support the objectives and activities of regional institutions, such as the "Centro de Formación para la Integración Regional" (CEFIR), in Montevideo, aimed at the training of professionals in the public and private sectors and of new generations, strengthening specialised capacities in fields such as analysis, training and management of integration processes.
  2. In order to ensure the most efficient use of the available financial resources and to maximise existing complementarities and synergies, agree on the special importance of the principle of subsidiarity and on the need to strengthen co-operation on all sides.