THE European Union (EU) is moving to strengthen its relationship with Jamaica and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).
Among the areas of focus for the EU is stepping up joint efforts towards a robust and sustainable socio-economic recovery that promotes equality and social inclusion — notably through education and skills-building — with particular emphasis on women and youth.
It calls for increased cooperation in research and innovation, making full use of opportunities under the Horizon Europe Programme which is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation, with a budget of €95.5 billion.
The new policy also proposes to consolidate and strengthen the partnership on justice and security to address common challenges posed by transnational organised crime, including the drugs trade and human trafficking.
It stresses the importance of reinforcing cooperation on human rights, including non-discrimination and gender equality, and makes the case for more prominent protection for human rights defenders and journalists. It also proposes joint efforts to promote democracy, the rule of law and good governance, as well as global peace and security.
Late last week the EU’s representative for foreign affairs and the European Commission agreed on the new policy, which has been dubbed a New Agenda for Relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean.
It proposes a stronger and modernised strategic partnership through reinforced political engagement; boosting trade and investment; and building more sustainable, fair and interconnected societies through Global Gateway investments.
According to president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the EU-LAC strategic partnership is more important than ever.
“We are key allies to strengthen the rules-based international order, stand up together for democracy, human rights and international peace and security.
“We also have an interest in strengthening our political partnership and engagement, fight climate change, and to take forward an inclusive, human-centred digital transformation. Our Global Gateway will also boost investment and closer cooperation,” said von der Leyen.
Launched ahead of the EU-CELAC (Community of Latin America and Caribbean States) Summit to be held in Brussels July 17 and 18, the new policy aims to recalibrate and renew bi-regional relations.
The policy also calls for renewed political engagement in a flexible and multi-layered approach between the two regions, with individual Latin American and Caribbean countries, with sub-regions, and in multilateral fora.
At the bi-regional level it proposes to enhance dialogue between the EU and CELAC with more regular summits and a permanent coordination mechanism.
At the sub-regional level the EU says the Caribbean merits increased political attention, notably through the finalisation of the post-Cotonou Agreement in addition to engagement with other sub-regional groups such as Mercosur, which is an economic and political bloc consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
At the level of bilateral relations the EU proposes the relaunching of summits with strategic partners Brazil and Mexico. Also, establishing political dialogue mechanisms with a number of countries that do not currently have them are other priorities.
The new policy also proposes increased cooperation at the multilateral level to address jointly the regional and global challenges in line with the shared values, interests and objectives of the EU and CELAC.
The EU and Latin America and the Caribbean together represent almost one third of the membership of the United Nations (UN).
The Caribbean and Latin America region is vital to the ecological balance of the planet as it is home to more than 50 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity.
The region is also a major food producer, accounting for 14 per cent of global food production and 45 per cent of net international agri-food trade.