Friday

21st Jan 2022

EU-Latin America summit achieves little

  • Trade and biofuels were sharp points of division at the EU-Latin America and Caribbean summit (Photo: EUobserver)

Very little of any substance was achieved at the EU Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) summit over the weekend, with the almost 50 heads of state failing to agree to any movement in trade discussions, one of Europe's main objectives in attending the summit.

The leaders said in a joint statement they hoped to "actively pursue" two free trade agreements. One between between Europe and Central America and the other between the EU and the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Summit host centre-left Peruvian President Alan Garcia said the leaders of the Andean Community had agreed on more "flexible" free trade agreement negotiations.

"We're basically in agreement to move toward an accord at the next round of talks in Brussels on June 12,'' Mr Garcia said at the end of the summit.

However, fellow Andean leaders Evo Morales of Bolivia and Rafael Correa of Ecuador said it was still too early to move toward any free trade agreement.

The more leftist leaders were opposed to further opening up their markets to European competition before they had a chance for their economies to develop, while the more centrist among them were frustrated at their intransigence.

Nonetheless, the Ecuadorian leader was optimistic: "We made important progress," Mr Correa told reporters in Lima on Saturday. "It's a general framework with flexibility that means in principle countries can sign parts of the agreement and not others."

The leaders did however attempt to put a positive spin on the largely fruitless series of meetings, highlighting discussions that had taken place on climate change and poverty reduction.

"Particularly intense debates were held on combating climate change," said Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country currently holds the six-month rotating EU presidency.

Meanwhile, European leaders backed Brazilian President Lula da Silva, whose country is the world's top producer of ethanol, in their insistence that biofuels are not the cause of sky-rocketing food prices that have rocked much of the developing world in recent months, producing a wave of riots, demonstrations and strikes.

The impact of biofuels should not provoke such alarm, because from my point of view the relationship isn't that clear," said Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Most other Latin American leaders, for their part, remained unconvinced.

All the leaders were able to agree on regarding the matter was that something should be done regarding the food crisis. What exactly remained unsaid.

"[We are] deeply concerned by the impact of increased food prices," the leaders said in a declaration released on 16 May, and called for "immediate measures to assist the most vulnerable countries and populations affected."

At the same time, the major spat that had preceded the talks between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and German Chancellor Angela Merkel largely dissipated. Mr Chavez told reporters he had kissed the chancellor on the cheek and had apologised to the chancellor for his comments comparing her Christian Democrat party to "the same movement that supported Hitler."

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Merkel had warned other Latin American countries to stay away from the Venezuelan socialist's "left-wing populism".

Divisions between Latin American leaders were also on display, with Mr Chavez and Colombia's right-wing leader, Avaro Uribe, refusing to speak to one another. In March of this year, Mr Uribe bombed alleged encampments of Colombia's Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) within Ecuador without Quito's permission, and has accused the Venezuelan president of supporting the Colombian guerillas.

Macron promises strong EU borders

Obligatory detentions, more security-screening, and faster deportations - these are the French EU presidency's migration priorities.

MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'

MEPs will vote on new rules setting out transparency obligations for online players and holding Big Tech giants accountable. But some issues proved to be divisive after EU lawmakers tabled over a hundred amendments on the file.

Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia

Emmanuel Macron also took hits from French political opponents, including the Green party presidential challenger MEP Yannick Jadot in the European Parliament ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in France in April.

Opinion

Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers

President Emmanuel Macron's address to the European Parliament championed a bold and ambitious pro-European agenda. There is one problem though - the plans rely on a system of governance that has gridlocked the EU for over a decade.

Analysis

Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?

The EU plans to label natural gas as 'green' in sustainable investment rules. From 2026 it will have to be blended with low-carbon gases like green hydrogen - but many scientists warn this is inefficient, costly and damaging to health.

Opinion

Tomorrow MEPs can end EU animal export horror show

On Thursday, MEPs must press for a ban on all live exports outside the EU, and call for overall journey times within the EU to be limited to four hours for poultry and rabbits, and eight hours for other animals.

News in Brief

  1. MEPs call for full-scale election observers in Hungary
  2. Nato membership 'very unlikely' on her watch: Finland's PM
  3. Germany investigates Green leaders' Covid-bonuns
  4. Officials surprised by Macron's call for seperate EU-Russia talks
  5. Commission to withhold EU funds from Poland in mine row
  6. 'Patriotic millionaires' call for wealth tax at virtual Davos
  7. Borders must not be moved by force, Scholz warns
  8. MEPs demand public consultation on gas and nuclear

Column

An EU-Africa 'equal partnership' must tackle past and present

Competition is fierce and getting African leaders' attention is no easy task. US president Joe Biden has his own Africa summit, and Turkey, Japan, Russia and - most importantly - China, also have Africa forums up and running.

Opinion

Tomorrow MEPs can end EU animal export horror show

On Thursday, MEPs must press for a ban on all live exports outside the EU, and call for overall journey times within the EU to be limited to four hours for poultry and rabbits, and eight hours for other animals.

Latest News

  1. Macron promises strong EU borders
  2. MEPs to crackdown on digital 'Wild West'
  3. Macron calls for new security order and talks with Russia
  4. Macron's vision will hit EU Council veto buffers
  5. Hydrogen - the 'no-lose bet' for fossil-fuel industry?
  6. Tomorrow MEPs can end EU animal export horror show
  7. An EU-Africa 'equal partnership' must tackle past and present
  8. Metsola becomes youngest EU Parliament president

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us