Strengthening ties: A new agenda for the EU's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean

Briefing 20-06-2023

The importance of Latin America

Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine and United States-China rivalry continue to dominate the global political and economic landscape in 2023. Challenges to the multilateral rules-based global order are redefining strategic relations. In its attempt to foster alliances, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President (HR/VP) and the European Commission adopted a joint communication setting out a new agenda for relations between the European Union and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) on 7 June 2023. To strengthen and modernise the strategic partnership, reinforced political engagement, boosted trade and investment, and more sustainable investment through the Global Gateway connectivity strategy are key priorities of the EU strategy towards the region – one of the most aligned in terms of interests, culture and values. Less than a year earlier, on 27 October 2022, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and EU foreign ministers adopted the joint CELAC-EU Roadmap 2022 2023 in Buenos Aires. This paved the way for the long-awaited EU-CELAC Summit to take place in Brussels, set for 17 18 July 2023, under the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU. Expectations are high, as this will be the first fully-fledged summit in 8 years. EU-CELAC relations are not free of challenges: the LAC countries' stance on Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine (including EU sanctions against Russia), China's emergence as a key actor in Latin America, political and ideological divisions and economic asymmetries within the LAC region, and concerns relating to EU legislation on the green transition all need to be addressed. A litmus test for the strategic partnership will also be whether the partners manage to finalise the three key pending international agreements (Mercosur, Mexico and Chile).