CELAC-EU summmit: time for real partnership?
Leaders from the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean will meet for the third CELAC-EU summit in Brussels this Monday and Tuesday. Spain, which currently holds the EU Council presidency, sees itself as a mediator and wants to advance cooperation. A key goal is the signing of the free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, which has been under negotiation for decades. Europe’s press reflects on changes in the balance of power.
Focus more on Latin America
El Periódico de Catalunya says a trade agreement is long overdue:
“The focus on Russia and the war, the worries about controlling the Mediterranean, the concentration on the alliance with the North Atlantic states and development aid that is mainly focused on Africa have always pushed Latin America into the background. The Spanish EU Council presidency has now set itself the goal of improving this relationship which so far has only consisted of reacting to unrest or putting pressure on autocrats and reactionaries. ... Latin America contains a large part of the resources we need for the green transition. China and the US are fighting over this territory and it would be absurd for Europe not to develop a strategy when these countries are much closer to us.”
A more balanced relationship
The Irish Times hopes the summit will bring the two sides closer together:
“Equality and mutual respect is a central feature of the current transition from a time when Latin American leaders tended to follow US and European policies towards a more independent approach. ... The Latin American side is far less politically integrated than the EU one and is determined to pursue its own interests. ... The summit promises to be a bruising, but worthwhile, transition towards a more balanced relationship.”
Underwhelming at best
The summit is likely to be disappointing because the EU simply doesn’t have much to offer, the Financial Times fears:
“The region is culturally close to Europe, it is largely democratic and shares the EU’s founding values, and immigration from it into the bloc has been relatively easy to absorb. ... At best, the EU-Mercosur trade agreement, under way for decades, will get a political push towards ratification. The likely underwhelming summit is a sign that the EU has not contemplated, let alone articulated, what deeper forms of relationship it can offer non-members beyond traditional trade deals and association agreements.”
Europe may be in for a reality shock
Europe needs Latin America more than the other way round, writes South America correspondent Alexander Busch:
“A case in point is the EU-Mercosur agreement. The Europeans want to dictate to their South American partner countries the conditions for future bilateral trade. But Latin America’s agricultural goods and metal reserves will find their own buyers — with or without a free trade agreement. ... At the same time the Europeans want to continue buying industrial raw materials which are of strategic importance for them. But why should the South Americans open up their markets to European industrial goods if they themselves are offered little in exchange? The summit in Brussels could end up giving Europe a reality shock.”