The European Union pledged more investment for Latin America and the Caribbean at a summit on Monday, as part of a revamp of its international relations amid Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s growing wariness.
As more than 50 leaders from the three regions met in Brussels to the EU-CELAC summit (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) of two days, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, told a business forum that Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe needed each other more than ever.
“The world we live in is more competitive and conflict-ridden than ever. Still reeling from the high toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is taking a heavy hit from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” he said.
“And this is happening against the background of China’s growing assertiveness abroad,” he added.
Der Leyen said the EU was planning a 45 billion euro investment in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its Global Gateway scheme, widely seen as a rival to China’s Silk Road infrastructure investment programme.
The differences for Ukraine
discussions on the summit communiqué highlighted differences on how to approach the war in Ukraine.
The EU has said it wants a joint statement condemning Russia, but knows it will be difficult to achieve. While most CELAC countries backed a UN resolution in February demanding the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops, Nicaragua voted against it and Bolivia, Cuba and El Salvador abstained.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has presented himself as neutral and as a possible peace broker.
Lula did not repeat his earlier criticism of the West for supplying Ukraine with weapons, but said the war was diverting resources from priorities elsewhere.
“The war in the heart of Europe casts a blanket of uncertainty over the world and diverts resources that were essential for the economy and social programs for war purposes,” he said.
“The arms race makes tackling climate change even more difficult,” he said.
On the other hand, the President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, met during the morning with the head of the European Council, Charles Michel and made “a call to join efforts to eliminate the enormous inequality gap that separates us.”