Latin America today: What kind of partner for the EU?
CEDLA Lecture by Lorena Ruano
First CEDLA Lecture of this academic year, given by Lorena Ruano (European Union Institute for Security Studies (Paris)), with comments from Matthijs Schroeder (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Western Hemisphere).
In the run up to the bi-regional EU-CELAC summit in El Salvador in October, there was talk of a unique opportunity to boost this relationship, due to a rapidly shifting international context. But, what sort of partner would the EU have encountered in San Salvador if the EU-CELAC meeting had not been cancelled? Latin America and the Caribbean today is a war-free but violent and corrupt region, with institutional consolidation problems and an increasingly contested human rights and democracy regime. It is facing an economic downturn that threatens the gains of the past decade and is vulnerable to the vagaries of its external partners, especially changes in US policy. For that reason, the EU is a necessary ally in the perpetual struggle to diversify LAC’s political and economic links. Despite a multiplicity of regional cooperation schemes (MERCOSUR, Pacific Alliance, CELAC, the OAS), which will be analysed in detail during the talk, regional coordination remains elusive, and expectations about what CELAC can produce should be kept low in the first instance. Deeper cooperation is more viable at a bilateral and sub-regional level, but for some countries of the region this dialogue is the only structured political and cooperation forum they share with the EU.
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Gijsbert van Tienhovengebouw
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