For the first time in eight years, the leaders of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) met again at a high-level summit. This Monday, July 17, the first day of the meeting concluded, which had the strengthening of economic collaboration at the center of the debate. Another central issue on the agenda is the war in Ukraine, one that divides positions among the attendees.
In Brussels, leaders of the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) met after eight years with the aim of strengthening economic cooperation between the two blocs. However, differences arose over trade agreements and the situation in Ukraine, where the war has generated concern and divergent positions.
The EU considers Latin America and the Caribbean as a region with which it shares fundamental values and wants the summit to end with a condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine. A subject that occupied a good part of the agenda of the first day.
Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, emphasized the importance of sharing the same values. The European leader stated: “We want international law and the Charter of the United Nations to be respected.” And she added: “You have shown this with your support for the UN resolution on Russia. And we thank you.”
For his part, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, stressed the need to support Ukraine to preserve stability and global security. “We would like to discuss with our Latin American friends and explain why we see it as very important to support Ukraine and not allow Russia to win, because if Russia wins this would mean that we would all be in danger,” Michel added.. However, it is not an easy task, since the Latin American region has great disagreements on the conflict.
Discrepancies between the blocs over the war in Ukraine
In the decisions made by the United Nations General Assembly on the war in Ukraine, Nicaragua has voted against condemning the conflict. Bolivia, Cuba and El Salvador abstained from voting, while the rest of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean voted yes to the sentence.
Thus, there were divergent opinions among Latin American leaders. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, warned about the dangerous division of the world into antagonistic blocs and criticized the unilateral sanctions that affect the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
But the rotating president of Celac urged not to turn the summit into a battlefield on the war in Ukraine, arguing that there are other more relevant forums to address this issue.
Despite the differences over the war in Ukraine, the EU-Celac summit represents an opportunity to strengthen relations between the two blocs. Economic cooperation, political dialogue and the search for joint solutions to global challenges are key elements in this meeting.
Progress and challenges in the trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur
During the summit, the need to work on updating the trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur, reached in 2019 after 20 years of negotiations, was reaffirmed. However, the agreement has not yet been ratifiedand seeks to benefit both economies considering the existing asymmetries in economic aspects and human development.
Germany, as Argentina’s main trading partner in the EU and one of the largest foreign investors in the country, has a crucial role in this process. German investment spans key sectors such as infrastructure, energy, manufacturing, and oil and gas extraction.
The Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, expressed optimism when affirming that he sees a political will to ratify the agreement between the EU and Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) before the end of 2023, during the Spanish presidency in the block . “SIt would be the most important economic agreement that exists, more important than what we have with the United States (…) and Canada,” added the president.
Regarding the trade agreement, in countries such as France and Ireland, concerns have arisen among farmers about the impact of meat imports. In the sense that they see their work threatened.
On the other hand, there is the fight against climate change. A central point in the agreement and that has generated a good part of the disagreements between the parties. Despite this, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is confident that a pact will be reached equitable between the EU and Mercosur.
One of the biggest critics of the European demands is Lula. at the summit stressed that the defense of environmental values should not become an excuse for protectionism. He stressed that it is everyone’s responsibility to protect the Amazon rainforest.
Discussions on the final declaration of the summit continue and the condemnation of the war in Ukraine remains one of the main obstacles. Meanwhile, the leaders are expected to tackle other challenges, such as climate change, pandemics, poverty and food security. All these are the earrings that will return to the table on the second day this Tuesday.
With information from EFE and Reuters