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Procedure : 2017/2027(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0268/2017

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PV 12/09/2017 - 19
CRE 12/09/2017 - 19

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PV 13/09/2017 - 9.15
CRE 13/09/2017 - 9.15
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Wednesday, 13 September 2017 - Strasbourg
EU political relations with Latin America

European Parliament resolution of 13 September 2017 on EU political relations with Latin America (2017/2027(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and in particular Title V thereof on EU external action,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and in particular Part Five, Titles I-III and V thereof (Common Commercial Policy, Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, and International Agreements),

–  having regard to the Council’s conclusions of 17 October 2016 on the Global Strategy on the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 September 2009 entitled ‘The European Union and Latin America: Global Players in Partnership’ (COM(2009)0495),

–  having regard to the strong cultural, linguistic, political and historical ties established partly as a result of decades of intense migration between EU Member States and Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries,

–  having regard to the EU annual report on human rights and democracy in the world in 2015 (Country and Regional Issues),

–  having regard to the declarations of the summits of Heads of State or Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and the European Union held to date and, in particular, the Declaration of the second EU-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit, held in Brussels from 10-11 June 2015 under the theme ‘Shaping our common future: working together for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for our citizens’, which adopted the political declaration entitled ‘A Partnership for the next generation’,

–  having regard to the EU-CELAC Civil Society Forum Declaration of 11 May 2015 entitled ‘Equality, rights and democratic participation for the peoples of Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean’,

–  having regard to the joint communiqué of the first EU-CELAC Ministerial Inter-Summit Meeting, held in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) between 25 and 26 October 2016,

–  having regard to the declaration adopted at the 25th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, held in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) between 28 and 29 October 2016 entitled ‘Youth, Entrepreneurship and Education’,

–  having regard to the political declaration of the fifth summit of the Heads of State or Government of CELAC held in Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) on 25 January 2017,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 January 2016 in support of the peace process in Colombia(1),

–  having regard to its resolutions on Venezuela, in particular those of 8 June 2016(2) and 27 April 2017(3) on the situation in Venezuela,

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 5 July 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Cuba, of the other part(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2014 on the disappearance of 43 teaching students in Mexico(5),

–  having regard to the resolutions of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat), in particular those of 22 September 2016 on trade aspects of the various EU-LAC negotiations currently being conducted(6), on combating poverty as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development(7), on the financing of political parties in the European Union and Latin America(8), and on the economic and financial relations with the People’s Republic of China from the perspective of the EU-LAC Bi-regional Strategic Partnership(9), and of 29 March 2014 on femicide in the European Union and Latin America(10),

–  having regard to the EuroLat recommendation of 22 September 2016 on migration, development and the economic crisis(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on the EU strategy for relations with Latin America(12),

–  having regard to the Declaration by the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on point (ii) of point (b) of Article 5(2) of Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020,

–  having regard to ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, in particular Article 14 thereof on the rights of ownership and possession of the peoples concerned over the lands they traditionally occupy,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the role of the EU in promoting a broader Transatlantic Partnership(13),

–  having regard to the recommendations made in the European Court of Auditors Special Report on the effectiveness of blending regional investment facility grants with financial institution loans to support EU external policies,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0268/2017),

A.  whereas the Latin American and Caribbean region (LAC) constitutes a key partner for the EU when it comes to jointly facing current global challenges, such as the eradication of poverty, access to drinking water, universal respect for human rights, peace and security, socioeconomic development, lack of good governance, sustainability, the fight against climate change, the digital transformation and managing migration;

B.  whereas the EU-LAC partnership is founded on close historical and cultural ties, extensive people-to-people exchanges, strong and growing trade and investment flows and shared values such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

C.  whereas the 33 LAC countries have diverse political, economic and cultural realities that require different approaches within a coherent and consistent framework in the context of EU external action, while always defending EU values on democracy and human rights;

D.  whereas the long-lasting partnership between the EU and LAC countries is founded on historical, cultural, human and economic ties, which must not be taken for granted and should be more horizontally oriented, common principles and values, including respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, international peace and security, and a shared support for a multilateral system of global governance based on common norms and dialogue;

E.  whereas the EU and LAC countries together make up a third of the total population of the members of the United Nations and account for around 25 % of global GDP;

F.  whereas stepping up the political dialogue and cooperation on migration, climate change, energy and countering organised crime as well as investing in deeper socio-economic ties through visa facilitation, student exchanges and research cooperation are priorities for the EU external action with LAC countries;

G.  whereas the Bi-regional Strategic Partnership between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean that was launched in June 1999 to strengthen relations between the two regions is not yet a consolidated achievement;

H.  whereas the LAC region has undergone significant changes in the past decade, such as the elevation of a large part of the population to the middle class through economic reforms and social policies, greater redistribution of the wealth generated in the countries in the region, allowing for improved access to education, health and decent housing, as well as the overall consolidation of democracy, but also the end of the commodities super-cycle that made millions of people at risk of falling back into poverty;

I.  whereas, after a decade of impressive economic growth, the end of the cycle of high prices for raw materials, on which the majority of LAC countries depend, combined with the economic slowdown in China, which is now their second largest trading partner after the US, has led to economic stagnation and even recession in various countries in the region, jeopardising much of the progress made and leaving millions of people at risk of falling back into poverty;

J.  whereas in some Latin American countries there is strong public demand for greater democracy and participation and for sustainable economic policies;

K.  whereas the rule of law reflected in a stable legal framework with the guarantee of legal certainty is crucial for attracting the investments needed to promote economic recovery;

L.  whereas respect for the rule of law and for a stable legal and political framework enables the two regions to exercise a free enterprise and supportive investment environment that include safeguards of the principle of legal certainty;

M.  whereas high inflation levels hinder growth and must therefore be addressed immediately; whereas reliable exchange rates are vital for a country’s economic development; whereas it is vital to implement an industrial policy that increases productivity, diversifies the economy and attracts investments;

N.  whereas the Association Agreements between the EU and LAC countries help to improve the political and trade dialogue as well as the investment climate, opening up the service sector and public procurement markets and allowing the implementation of infrastructure projects;

O.  whereas it is of high importance that Latin America and the EU develop a shared agenda;

P.  whereas the EU has experienced major shifts in recent years, namely the economic crisis, the challenges linked to Brexit and the refugee crisis;

Q.  whereas the main geopolitical shifts currently in play in LAC countries, marked by the increasing presence, among other things, of Asian states seeking economic partnership in the region, require the EU to reinforce its position as a truthful ally to its partners in the LAC region, not only in terms of economic exchange, but as a partner in social progress and in the defence of common values;

R.  whereas current the EU-Mexico Global Agreement, the EU-Chile Association Agreement and the EU-Mercosur Interregional Framework Cooperation Agreement entered into force in 1997, 2003 and 1999 respectively; whereas, due to their importance to the EU and LAC countries, ongoing negotiations on updating these agreements need an ambitious impetus in order to achieve the most modern and progressive outcome;

S.  whereas the EU is the main source of development assistance, as reflected in the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) 2014-2020, the main investor and one of the main trading partners with the LAC region, and whereas European cooperation is strong as a result of financial and triangular cooperation;

T.  whereas the Commission is drafting a new development agenda as part of the 2030 Agenda, and whereas the concept of sustainable development must be applied in and include all the countries in Latin America (including middle-income countries), and whereas that new approach must take account of other criteria in addition to per capita income;

U.  whereas LAC countries have been systematically relegated to second place when defining the main priorities of the EU’s external policy, despite the obvious cultural and linguistic ties that historically link it to the LAC countries, and despite the need to find new allies in the face of its growing loss of geopolitical influence in the world;

V.  whereas the Atlantic region as a whole – including the EU, North America, Central America, South America and the countries along the Atlantic coast of Africa – is very important, as is the need for cooperation between the Atlantic regions and countries, to enable them all to address the shared challenges faced by this very large area;

W.  whereas the next WTO Ministerial Conference is to be held in Buenos Aires in December 2017, and whereas parliamentary delegations from the member countries will also be meeting at that conference;

X.  whereas the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ensures universal access to information and protection of freedom of expression;

Y.  whereas the 10 best countries in terms of energy governance and 20 % of the world’s oil reserves are in Latin America;

Z.  whereas two Latin American countries, Mexico and Brazil, have been identified as strategic partners of the EU;

1.  Underlines that the EU-LAC bi-regional partnership is based on common principles, values and interests such as democracy, human rights, peace and solidarity, the rule of law and an independent judiciary as well as a commitment to uphold them in a horizontal relationship and has become critical to the advancement of the bi-regional and cooperation exchanges; stresses that in the wake of the economic crisis, the EU and LAC countries are facing common challenges in the areas of sustainable economic growth and the fight against unemployment, digital transformation, social inclusion and gender equality, while at the same time sharing common values;

2.  Highlights the fact that the new geopolitical scenario reinforces the LAC region as a strategic priority and opportunity for the EU’s foreign policy, as both regions share a common vision of the world based on multilateralism, dialogue, sustainability, the rule of law, respect for human rights and inclusive open societies; acknowledges the positive and rich diversity of actors in the relations between EU and LAC countries, including states, cities and local entities as well as universities, civil society, corporations and the European Economic and Social Committee; calls for further coordination of the agreements, cooperation actions and high-level political contacts;

3.  Considers the expansion of political and economic cooperation and the building of stronger partnerships with LAC countries to be crucial at bi-regional, sub-regional and bilateral level as complementary actions; stresses the need for this cooperation to contribute effectively to the consolidation of economic growth via sustainable socio-economic development policies while ensuring social inclusion, civil liberties and human rights and the reduction of poverty; believes that the EU-LAC partnership and the association agreements should take into account the economic differences between the regions and be mindful of not worsening existing asymmetries; notes that the presence of European companies is very important for the national economies of the countries of Latin America and stresses that their activities must be subject to existing rules and monitoring processes;

4.  Underlines the importance of the EU-CELAC summits as an instrument of the strategic bi-regional partnership as a new framework for political dialogue; calls for the EU and for CELAC to also reinforce this partnership and political dialogue within the framework of its thematic dialogues and main initiatives, such as the Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation, the Structured Dialogue on Migration and the Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism on Drugs and by working on clearly identified common interests in order to jointly address key global challenges in the areas of good governance, economic growth, social cohesion, culture, innovation and the environment in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations, the G-20, and the WTO;

5.  Reiterates the EU and the LAC’s commitment to stepping up cooperation on the global agenda and advocates a multilateral approach in the WTO as the basis for an open trading system, based on predictable, more inclusive rules that are effective in achieving the objectives of reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development, and are also transparent and democratic, with an enhanced parliamentary dimension;

6.  Reiterates its support for regional integration in the LAC region, and stresses the need for greater coordination between the different regional integration schemes in the region, while respecting differences in the pace of integration; recommends enhanced dialogue, cooperation and the exchange of best practices with CELAC, Mercosur, the Andean Community of Nations (ACN), the Central American Integration System (SICA) and the Pacific Alliance, to increase dialogue on areas of common interest and to make its institutional framework stronger; recommends enhancing regional initiatives on political dialogue, cooperation and the exchange of best practices such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to advance democracy in South America; stresses the importance of boosting interparliamentary cooperation between the EU and LAC, in particular between the European Parliament and the various regional parliaments, through exchanges of political and institutional experience and knowledge; welcomes the dialogue recently launched between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance with a view to gradual convergence and a scale up in the context of consulting on future regional and global challenges;

7.  Stresses that political stability, economic rules and institutional strength guaranteeing respect for the rule of law and transparency are cornerstones of an environment that attracts long-term investment, through legal certainty; emphasises that such a legal framework requires strong democratic institutions and responsible economic planning as well as efforts to strengthen political dialogue and economic partnerships within the region and with external partners; recalls, in this context, that the partnership with the EU plays a central role;

8.  Highlights how dynamic the Pacific Alliance – comprising Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru – is, and calls for the Vice-President / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to look into the possibility of the EU participating in the Alliance as an observer, as a number of EU Member States already do;

9.  Stresses that current global challenges, including human rights, peace, security, the fight against corruption and impunity, lack of good governance, socioeconomic sustainable development, the eradication of poverty, the digital transformation, mass migration, gender equality, cybersecurity, organised crime and terrorism, drug trafficking, climate change, geopolitical shifts, inequality within countries and across borders, informal work and growing unemployment, offer new opportunities and cooperation channels for the EU-LAC partnership to operate strategically where a common vision and agenda should be shared;

10.  Stresses that even having experienced a significant economic development, which has led to poverty and inequality levels falling, inequality remains a significant obstacle to the LAC region’s development, where 175 million people are living in poverty and exclusion, especially women and minors; stresses that economic growth, inclusive social development, the fair distribution of wealth and the universal provision of essential public services are the key to addressing this issue;

11.  Recalls that the goal of eradicating poverty and reducing inequality must be addressed through economic, social cohesion and inclusion policies, increased work opportunities, access to education, and highlights the need to protect all its citizens and enlarge the middle class irrespective of the effects of economic cycles, to consolidate the achievements on improving the living conditions, including through the establishment of social protection floors, and to respect democratic values and human rights;

12.  Underlines the need to integrate economies into global value chains, based on a circular economic model, and to recognise the importance of developing bilateral and multilateral commercial agreements as an effective tool that can contribute to tackling common global challenges, while promoting decent work and social dialogue among other things, as drivers of sustainable development; stresses the importance of creating conditions allowing the economies of both regions to diversify, making them less dependent and vulnerable on global cyclical variations; highlights the importance of promoting the transfer of scientific and technological knowledge, enhancing human capital and diversifying employment, to which end it is essential to increase investment in education, training and skills;

13.  Welcomes the protocol of 11 November 2016 on the accession of Ecuador to the EU’s Free Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru signed by the EU, its Member States, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru; recalls that this agreement removes high customs tariffs and technical barriers to trade, liberalises service markets, opens public procurement markets and includes obligations concerning fast and efficient dispute resolution mechanisms;

14.  Points out that the EU is the largest foreign investor in LAC and its second largest trading partner, creating a bidirectional economic relation based on the values of quality, social responsibility, job creation, technology transfer and research and innovation;

15.  Encourages further public and private partnerships to foster economic development, entrepreneurship, growth and foreign investment; stresses the need for combating the informal economy and the underdevelopment and low competitiveness of SMEs; calls for facilitating and improving mobility between both regions, while ensuring the mutual consistency of labour rights and enhancing the coordination of the social security systems;

16.  Stresses the need to develop sustainable and effective tax systems in both regions, together with an appropriate tax culture, including the establishment of effective general accounting offices that could foster economic growth and the development of welfare states providing and assuring public goods and services, such as access to public education, health, social protection infrastructure and security to all citizens, and reiterates that tax havens and tax avoidance are detrimental to economic and social development, progress and prosperity and the proper functioning of economic and social redistributive policies;

17.  Stresses that economic growth and trade are key elements in achieving sustainable development but are not sufficient to reduce poverty, inequality and exclusion; calls for effective policies that contribute to reducing these issues through diversified, sustainable and inclusive growth, with a strong emphasis on social issues, institutional support and respect for human rights;

18.  Takes the view that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be the foremost objective of cooperation between Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and the EU; urges the Union to boost budget support programmes;

19.   Supports the Commission’s new development agenda as part of the 2030 Agenda; reiterates that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals should be the main tools of EU-LAC cooperation, including all dimensions of economic, social and sustainable development, and not limited to poverty eradication; underlines that the EU must continue supplying official development assistance to all LAC countries, including the middle and higher income countries that no longer qualify for bilateral development cooperation under the differentiation principle, on the basis of a new approach, beyond per capita income; strongly requests that the Commission continue, on an exceptional basis and in accordance with the DCI Regulation, to provide bilateral cooperation to middle and higher income countries during the complete validity of the financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020 and beyond, in order to continue support for their efforts in the face of current challenges;

20.  Urges better coordination between policies and programmes supporting the LAC region, as well as the outermost regions and overseas countries and territories; calls for political commitments made at EU-LAC regional summits to be met and accompanied by the allocation of the necessary financial resources;

21.  Calls on the Commission to identify the instruments available and endow them with sufficient resources, taking suitable action to align them with the principles of effectiveness, appropriability, harmonisation, mutual responsibility, accountability and alignment with LAC countries’ development strategies, to help LAC to address the challenges facing it and to prepare itself for a possible future reduction in official development assistance (ODA); calls for such instruments to incorporate the transferring of know-how and training, and to assist in fiscal and public finance management reforms that contribute to boosting growth and to the provision of high-quality public services;

22.  Calls on the Commission to apply enforceable criteria on development effectiveness principles to its blending programmes, particularly in terms of ownership, alignment with partner countries, development and financial additionality, transparency and accountability;

23.  Points out that as a result of its geographical and geological characteristics LAC is highly vulnerable to natural disasters, and that this situation is aggravated as a result of climate change, which must be addressed globally in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility; calls on the Commission and the LAC countries to tackle the underlying causes, take climate-resilience measures and adopt risk-prevention strategies and protocols for a speedy mobilisation of humanitarian assistance in the event of emergencies;

24.  Urges the effective implementation of gender equality, the empowerment of women, and policies in favour of the inclusion of women in all spheres of political, economic and social life, with a view to enhancing their active participation in society, strenuously combating femicides, guaranteeing their physical and psychological security, facilitating equal access to the job market, land ownership, and employment, and ensuring their sexual and reproductive health and rights; stresses the importance of improving the lives of girls and women; highlights that access to education is therefore vital and could lead to social and economic transformation; welcomes the 1994 Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (‘Belém do Pará Convention’), and calls for the secretariat in its follow-up mechanism, MESECVI, to be given a more significant role; welcomes the entry into force in 2016 of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, and calls on countries in both regions that have not yet done so to sign up to it;

25.  Considers public policies, in particular on health, education and training, as well as private initiatives, opening up opportunities for the nearly 30 million young people not in employment, education or training to be fundamental; stresses that development programmes must tackle high levels of conflict, violence, organised crime and homicides, which affect young people and adolescents in particular and are one of the main challenges for LAC countries;

26.  Reiterates the importance of quality work and education opportunities being available for young people, as they embody the future hopes for, and are a key factor in, the continent’s long-term political stability; encourages further cooperation with economic funds in the form of bilateral university participation, scholarships, knowledge exchange, and international mobility between EU and LAC students, in particular through boosting the Erasmus+ programme as part of the higher-education partnership with CELAC, launched in 2015; notes with satisfaction that in 2015, the Erasmus+ program was successfully launched offering 6 200 mobility possibilities and 3 500 scholarships mostly for CELAC students until 2020; points out the need to advance the full and mutual recognition of university degrees and to strengthen bi-regional cooperation in the quality and accreditation system;

27.  Points out the key role of EU-CELAC cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovation and the importance of creating a EU-CELAC common research area to strengthen the cooperation on mobility of researchers and professors;

28.  Underlines the fundamental importance of children's rights and the need for strict compliance, by all EU-LAC countries, with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child;

29.  Encourages further cooperation in the area of promoting technological development and enhancing the population's access to information and communication technologies in order to adapt our societies to the digital transformation;

30.  Highlights the general trend and common challenges of the last decade on advancing freedoms and social rights, and the great efforts made to draw up inclusive public policies to protect vulnerable groups and to distribute wealth and economic growth on an equal basis, which has made a decisive contribution to lifting almost 60 million Latin Americans out of poverty in the past 15 years; calls on the authorities to respect and guarantee democratic principles, fundamental rights, the freedoms and safety of all citizens, including religious minorities, indigenous people, environmental activists, the LGTBI community, disabled citizens, forcibly displaced and stateless people, and populations in rural areas; underlines the importance of ensuring freedom of assembly, association and expression both online and offline;

31.  Underlines the need to guarantee the rights and safety of religious minorities and the LGTBI community; urges LAC governments to pass laws and take measures capable of protecting human rights defenders and journalists against the persecution, threats, defamation campaigns, arbitrary arrest, torture, forced disappearance and murder of which they are frequently the target; calls for the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and populations in rural areas to be safeguarded in the face of development projects with a major environmental impact and the operations of extractive industries, implementing prior consultation and consent mechanisms in such cases;

32.  Regrets the attacks against democratically elected opposition leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, in particular those working on environmental issues, and their lawyers; calls on the authorities to take all the necessary measures to guarantee their physical and psychological integrity and to ensure immediate, thorough and impartial investigations in order to bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

33.  Reiterates that the active involvement and consultation of civil society and NGOs during the negotiation and implementation process of trade or association agreements should be guaranteed;

34.  Highlights the need for agreements to make reference to the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in the LAC countries;

35.  Encourages EU Member States to consider adopting legislation providing for the possibility of the freezing of assets and visa restrictions targeting individuals who have been involved in serious human rights violations;

36.  Reiterates that policies and practices on migration must guarantee respect for human rights, with special attention given to women and vulnerable groups such as minors, the elderly and disabled people, while keeping in mind the challenges related to the protection of borders and the non-criminalisation of migrants; stresses the need for a comprehensive approach aimed at recognising the economic and social contribution of migrant workers for hosting countries, the significance of transit countries and the importance of establishing legal paths for citizenship in the host countries, and giving special consideration to displaced persons in need of asylum; calls for measures to facilitate and improve mobility between the countries, while ensuring the coherence of labour rights and enhancing the coordination of social security systems;

37.  Urges the LAC countries to make sure that social, environmental and labour rights are fully respected; calls for full and effective implementation of the ILO conventions and the respect for core labour standards, which, inter alia, include the freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; highlights, furthermore, the need to ensure the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour;

38.  Highlights the challenges both regions face in terms of defence and security, which include terrorism and the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime, and encourages continued efforts to strengthen defence and security cooperation through police and military coordination, paying particular attention to information sharing; urges Latin American countries to participate in EU crisis management and peacekeeping missions, as they are already doing in Colombia and Chile; encourages the fostering of further military cooperation for developing special emergency aid corps for natural and humanitarian disasters; calls for further cooperation in maritime security, disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control;

39.  Calls for unequivocal respect for the principle of the territorial integrity of states;

40.  Deplores the cuts in humanitarian aid and rejects the fact that these continue to occur in the areas most in need of this aid (Northern Triangle of Central America, Haiti and Colombia), as well as in areas particularly affected by the impact of climate change and natural disasters;

41.  Condemns the action taken by the governments of some countries which have refused to accept international humanitarian assistance, thereby making it impossible for those countries’ most basic needs to be addressed; calls on the VP/HR to urge the relevant authorities to allow the entry of such assistance and to put forward an assistance plan for each country;

42.  Calls on the EU to strive to support LAC countries suffering endemic violence, with unacceptable rates of homicide, extrajudicial execution and forced disappearances, since without security there can be no genuine prosperity, dignity and happiness; urges LAC countries to take steps to put an end to prison overcrowding and improve prison conditions, to guarantee that the physical and psychological integrity of detainees is safeguarded, to investigate and punish torture and ill-treatment and to promote the more humane treatment of prisoners so as to prevent the mutinies that regularly occur in prisons and that result in loss of life;

43.  Highlights the need to step up cooperation among all countries in the Atlantic region in the fight against drug trafficking, also involving the countries concerned in West Africa, which are a major hub for consignments of drugs between Latin America and Europe;

44.  Asks the EU to support the Central American countries afflicted by organised crime that threatens their social and political structures;

45.  Emphasises the need for the EU to continue supporting the Central America Security Strategy (CASS) and the Caribbean Security Strategy;

46.  Stresses the urgent need to step up efforts to combat corruption, tax fraud and impunity, as these are among the main obstacles preventing development, to ensure respect for the rule of law, the holding of free and transparent elections, the separation of powers and equal access to an independent, impartial and professionalised judicial system, to support good governance, to address institutional weaknesses and to strengthen administration; acknowledges the work carried out by EUROsociAL in this area;

47.  Calls on the EU and LAC countries to address and combat the problem of corruption through measures ranging from prevention to law enforcement and criminal prosecution, the effective implementation of multilateral and international anti-corruption conventions, and points out that the existence of corruption undermines not only social and economic welfare and social equality, but also political legitimacy and good governance; stresses that the absence of an independent judiciary and public administration fosters distrust in public institutions, undermining the rule of law and fuelling violence; underlines that transparency, free media and civic participation are necessary to strengthen the fight against corruption; takes into consideration that new international provisions to push for the end of tax havens should be introduced, such as the automatic exchange of tax information and the lifting of bank secrecy;

48.  Calls for further cooperation on environmental issues, a major mutual interest, with special emphasis on the energy transition and decarbonisation process, which will have an impact on the economies of both regions; highlights the need to support research on and the deployment of renewable energies, the protection of nature, forest management, and policies to address the causes and consequences of climate change in a region that is acutely affected by its effects, taking into account the rights of local and indigenous communities in areas where natural resources are extracted; stresses the need to further support initiatives such as EUROCLIMA or the RIOCC, in line with the Lima Agenda on sustainable development, environment, climate change and energy; recognises the common need to implement an energy transition in order to successfully fulfil the Paris Agreements; underlines the need for further investment and cooperation between EU-LAC institutions and companies to commonly address the energetic transition, de-carbonisation and the improvement of the basic infrastructures; stresses the importance of improving governance and judicial procedures to protect forests and to expand agro-ecological farming practices;

49.  Considers it crucial to speed up EU-Mercosur negotiations in order to get a comprehensive, balanced and mutually beneficial association agreement, as referred to in the European Council conclusions of 9 March 2017, so as to make it possible to complete the network of agreements in force between the EU and Latin America; stresses the need to end the negotiations and to achieve a final agreement to be ratified by the European Parliament before the end of the current term which will contribute positively to economic growth and employment creation in both economic areas as well as strengthening the historical, cultural, political and cooperation relationships and trust between our peoples;

50.  Highlights the importance of speeding up the ongoing negotiations for the updating of the EU-Mexico Global Agreement, and calls for that agreement to be concluded by the end of 2017; points out the importance of finalising the updated EU-Chile Association Agreement before the first trimester of 2018; calls on the Member State parliaments that have not yet done so to ratify the EU-Central America Association Agreement;

51.  Stresses the importance of Ecuador's recent accession to the Multisectoral Agreement with Colombia and Peru and recalls that the door is also open for Bolivia should it decide to participate; welcomes the implementation of the short-stay Schengen visa waiver for Peru and Colombia; requests, in this context, the same visa waiver for Ecuador; points out that these actions contribute to improving the EU's economic and cultural ties with those countries;

52.  Stresses the vital importance of systematically including rules on corporate responsibility and clauses safeguarding human rights and social rights in association, trade and investment agreements between the EU and LAC countries;

53.  Points out that Mexico and Brazil have been identified as strategic partners of the EU and calls for Argentina to be granted this status as an outstanding player in the region, and as a member of Mercosur and the G20, and for the institutional relations framework to be renewed;

54.  Recognises the importance of the Ibero-American summits, the operating mechanisms of which have been strengthened over the past few years, and, at the same time, highlights the role that the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) plays in supporting the rotating presidency; highlights the added value that it brings to the overall partnership between the two regions as a forum for dialogue, coordination and cooperation; calls, in that regard, for the establishment of a cooperation mechanism – that could take the form of a memorandum of understanding or a framework cooperation agreement between the Commission and/or the EEAS and SEGIB – that is able to optimise the relationship and place it on a more structured, orderly and systematic footing between the two bodies; welcomes the fact that, at the most recent summit, close attention was paid to important areas including youth, education and entrepreneurship;

55.  Reiterates that the EuroLat Assembly and the Parliamentary Delegations are very successful and useful forums for the parliamentary dimension of the strategic partnership, and for political dialogue between the EU and LAC countries, including civil society, whose role should be reinforced, as well as being important in terms of transmitting citizens' demands to the EU-CELAC summits; stresses the importance of ensuring the visibility and dissemination of its discussions and conclusions, both via interaction with EU-CELAC summits and national and regional institutional channels;

56.  Underlines the role of the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Foundation as an international organisation, and calls for the agreement establishing it to be swiftly ratified by all of its sixty-two members, which would play an important role in supporting the bi-regional partnership, and requests the establishment of permanent channels of cooperation between the Foundation and the EuroLat Assembly;

57.  Supports an increase of the external lending mandate of the European Investment Bank for Latin America in order to maintain and develop operations to respond to the need for financing priority areas, such as climate change mitigation, the development of social, economic and environmental infrastructure and support for SMEs;

58.  Calls for better and multilateral coordination of the EU Member States in the Inter-American Development Bank (BID) and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), in order to maximise their economic impact in the development programs for LAC countries;

59.  Reiterates its support for the peace process in Colombia, which is decisive for the future of Colombians and for stabilisation in the region of which this country is a part, and undertakes to support the Colombian Government in its implementation; stresses, in this regard, the importance of involving the whole of Colombian society, in particular victims and civil society organisations, as well as forcibly displaced people, and of leaders of the government guaranteeing the safety and protection of human rights activists and community leaders; urges the EU and its Member States to continue their political and financial support, including through the DCI Regulation, in particular Article 5(2) thereof, and the EU Trust Fund for Colombia, and supports the role of the VP/HR’s Special Envoy for Colombia; express its wish that the National Liberation Army would also commit to the ongoing peace process; welcomes the fact that, under UN supervision, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have completed the handover of individual weapons; supports the new mission established by the UN Security Council in order to help FARC members reintegrate into society; welcomes the bilateral ceasefire agreement between the National Liberation Army and the Government of Colombia;

60.  Expresses its grave concern at the seriously deteriorating situation as regards democracy, human rights and the socio-economic situation in Venezuela, in a climate of growing political and social instability; calls on the Venezuelan Government to safeguard the separation and independence of branches of government and to restore full constitutional authority to the National Assembly; calls furthermore on the Venezuelan Government to ensure the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners and to present as soon as possible an electoral calendar that will allow free and transparent electoral processes to take place; calls on the international community, the regional actors and the VP/HR to promote and support a broad national agreement as the only possible solution; asks the VP/HR to actively explore other measures to constructively promote the political stabilisation of the country; rejects, in this context, any attempt to divert its constitutionally recognised powers to any other body; strongly condemns the elections to a Constituent Assembly of 30 July 2017 as being in breach of the separation of powers and respect for citizens’ rights to freely express their political opinion through democratically elected and legitimate institutions; recalls that the European Parliament, along with many other international actors, does not recognise those elections or any actions and decisions taken by the newly established Assembly due to its lack of legitimacy, and regrets the violent circumstances resulting in many people being killed and injured; expresses its grave concerns about the illegal prosecution and repression of democratically elected members of the National Assembly; rejects the dismissal of the Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega Diaz and her political persecution, as well as all of the members of the Supreme Court appointed by the legitimate National Assembly of Venezuela; fully supports the ICC investigations into the extensive crimes and acts of repression perpetrated by the Venezuelan regime, and calls for the EU to play an active role in this regard; calls on the VP/HR and the European Council to give consideration to the freezing of assets, as well as placing restrictions on access to EU territory for all those involved in the serious violations of human rights in Venezuela, including the members of the non-recognised Constituent Assembly;

61.   Welcomes the signing on December 2016 of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Cuba; stresses the importance of speeding up its implementation, which can have a positive impact on the overall EU-CELAC partnership; points out that the political dialogue and cooperation agreement should contribute to improving the living conditions and social rights of Cuban citizens, progress towards democracy, and the respect for and promotion of fundamental freedoms; emphasises that its validity will depend on the effective implementation by the Cuban Government of the human rights provisions established in the agreement and on the basis of European Parliament resolutions;

62.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission and to the governments and parliaments of the CELAC countries.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0016.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0269.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0200.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0297.
(5) OJ C 274, 27.7.2016, p. 28.
(12) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 54.
(13) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 120.

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