Brussels, Jul 18 (EFE).- The leaders of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States on Tuesday concluded a “historic” and “successful” summit in which both sides committed to relaunching the blocs’ political and economic relationship.
It marked the first meeting at the highest level between the EU and the CELAC in eight years.
The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said the summit was a “political success” and that the 70 countries were “absolutely convinced … that they shouldn’t wait eight years to meet again.”
The meeting was “like a new beginning,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
CELAC’s president “pro tempore,” Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, said for his part that following the “historic” agreement reached during the summit the relationship between the two blocs is “today stronger than yesterday or prior to yesterday.”
But Nicaragua, an ally of Russia’s, did not agree with the final declaration of the meeting because the text included a statement in which the EU and CELAC expressed their “deep concern on the ongoing war against Ukraine.”
Several deals were signed during the summit, including one between the EU and Chile on sustainable raw materials value chains.
During the summit, the EC pledged to CELAC that the EU’s institutions and member states will invest 45 billion euros ($50.5 billion) in the region until 2027 through its Global Gateway program.
That investment will be focused on areas such as sustainable raw materials, digital infrastructure, clean energy and health systems.
The EU assured its trans-Atlantic partners that this program is not solely focused on investing in the extraction of raw materials but also on building processing capacity in the Americas.
The latter point is a sensitive one for Latin American and Caribbean countries, which repeatedly reiterated during the summit their objection to serving as a mere source of raw materials for Europe.
The leaders of the two sides also took note of the efforts being made by the EU and South American trade bloc Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay) to ratify the trade deal they signed in 2019.
On the sidelines of the summit, European Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis held meetings with the foreign ministers of those four Latin American countries as part of their work aimed at clearing the way to ratification of the trade pact.
The European side is demanding greater environmental protections, while France and Ireland also fear a flood of beef imports from Brazil.
With the United Kingdom’s recent exit from the European bloc, the conclusions of the EU-CELAC summit for the first time mentioned the territorial dispute between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands
“Regarding the question of sovereignty over the Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands, the European Union took note of CELAC’s historical position based on the importance of dialogue and respect for international law in the peaceful solution of disputes,” the final declaration read.
The leaders pledged to hold an EU-CELAC summit every two years, with the next gathering scheduled for 2025 in Colombia. EFE