The European Union and Latin America are at the table for the first time in years, full of hot issues

The European Union and Latin America are at the table for the first time in years, full of hot issues
Brazilian President Lula (right) and Commission President von der Leyen

NOS News

  • Aida brands

    Brussels Editor

  • Aida brands

    Brussels Editor

Heads of government from Latin America and the European Union will meet at today’s summit for the first time in eight years. There is a whole agenda on the table, because more than fifty heads of government have enough topics for discussion.

For example, countries have different views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Many Latin American leaders say they are neutral and do not want to harshly condemn Russian President Putin.

At first there was talk of Ukrainian President Zelensky possibly attending the summit. In the past week it has become clear that this is not the case. Negotiations are still underway about whether and what countries want to say about Ukraine after the summit.

And China’s growing power in Latin America is also worrying some in Brussels. Beijing has invested heavily in Latin America in recent years. Many countries have taken Chinese loans and are skeptical of what the European Union can do economically.

Tire tensioning

For the European Union, it is clear that relations with the capitals of Latin America need to be strengthened. The EU wants to become less dependent on China, but it will have to buy raw materials from Latin America to do so. These raw materials are important for making the European economy more sustainable.

The European Union also has an interest in closer relations at the geopolitical level. The pressure on Russia is growing as more countries, such as those in Latin America, condemn the war in Ukraine.

Mercosur Treaty

The important topic at the top will be the business relationship. The European Union has several trade agreements in place. For example, a treaty was recently signed with Chile. The main topic at the summit will be the so-called Mercosur Treaty. For twenty years now, negotiations have been going on with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay on closer economic relations.

This excess is viscous. There are several reasons for this. Negotiations stalled when President Bolsonaro assumed power in Brazil. The hope is that negotiations will resume under the current Brazilian President Lula.

At the same time, there are fears from Europe that cheaper agricultural products coming from Latin America will have a negative impact on European farmers. The EU also agreed to include in trade agreements that European climate and human rights requirements must be met. This made negotiations with states more difficult.

It is not expected that the concerned countries will reach an agreement during this summit. It is mainly about strengthening relationships so that conversations can be accelerated. The European Commission hopes to sign the treaty before the end of the year.

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