EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit, Guadalajara, May 2004

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Publication Date 2004
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Information Guide concerning the third EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit (EU-LAC), held on 28-29 May 2004.

Further information:

58 Heads of State and Government met in Guadalajara (Mexico) for a summit whose agenda focused on multilateralism, social cohesion and the bi-regional relationship.

The Summit - which brought together a third of the world's governments - was the first to involve the 25-member European Union. The European Commission was represented by President Romano Prodi, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy, Agriculture and Fisheries Commissioner Franz Fischler, and Commissioner Joe Borg (twinned with Development Commissioner Poul Nielson).

Ireland's Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, representing the European Council, said that the event had been an 'outstanding success', enabling participants 'to examine how best we can coordinate our policies and planning to meet our international responsibilities and progress our shared interests and values'.

Background information:

The European Union is Latin America's second biggest trading partner, most important source of foreign direct investment, and major provider of development assistance.

The first EU-LAC Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro in June 1999, with the aims of strengthening the political, economic and cultural links between the two regions and of developing a strategic partnership.

May 2002 saw the second EU-LAC Summit take place in Madrid. That meeting helped consolidate the process started in Rio and confirmed commitment to developing a bi-regional partnership.

Since then, a number of initiatives have progressed the relationship, including the November 2002 EU-Chile Association Agreement and the conclusion of negotiations on Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreements with Central America and the Andean Community in December 2003.

There are a number of regional groupings in Latin and Central America, of which Mercosur - consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Mexico soon to join - is arguably the best known. Others include the Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela) and the Rio Group (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana - representing CARICOM - Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela).

Prior to the 2004 EU-LAC Summit, the European Commission issued a Communication detailing its proposed objectives for the meeting. The Commission called for leaders to focus particularly on social cohesion and regional integration, 'two issues that are vital both for the development and the stability of our regions and for the strengthening of our relations.'

Specifically, the Commission identified the following points on which it wanted leaders to agree:

'Social cohesion:

  • Encouraging Latin American countries to adopt sound and efficient policies - on democratic governance, social aspects and public finance and fiscal policies - to increase social cohesion by reducing poverty, inequalities and exclusion;
  • Encouraging the international community, including international financial institutions, to support such social cohesion measures;
  • Intensifying cooperation between the European Union and Latin America in the field of social cohesion;
  • Adopting the proposals suggested by the working group on social cohesion set up by the Commission together with the Inter-American Development Bank after the seminar on social cohesion that took place in June 2003 in Brussels, so that they will provide a social cohesion agenda on the basis of clear guidelines.

Regional integration

  • reconfirming the positive signal given in principle by the Madrid declaration to Central America and the Andean Community and paving the way towards the opening of negotiations on Association agreements, including FTA's [free trade agreements] which shall be built upon the outcome of the Doha Development Agenda. The realisation of a sufficient level of regional integration would then become the trigger for launching negotiations.
  • encouraging further progress on the work programme on EU-Mercosur negotiations for an Association agreement, as agreed on 12 November 2003 during the last EU-Mercosur Trade Negotiators meeting at Ministerial Level. This should, under appropriate conditions, enable the negotiations be concluded by October this year.'

In the context of the Doha Round and the failure in Cancun to reach agreement on the Doha Agenda, the EU has apparently decided to tackle opposition to its WTO demands by offering deals to particular countries and regions - including Mercosur. The Union hopes that the countries concerned will find it in their interests to support the EU's position at WTO negotiations. However, the proposed deal with Mercosur was branded in the Financial Times as 'noxious', because 'it could poison prospects for success in the Doha round of global trade negotiations and damage the interests of many other countries, including some of the world's poorest'.

A separate move to establish a bilateral free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur was according to the Financial Times, 'suspended', with the two sides 'opting instead to proceed on an informal basis' (see: Mercosur keeps EU trade relations informal), although it seems possible that a formal deal could be signed in October.

The third EU-LAC Summit produced the 104-point Declaration of Guadalajara, in which leaders addressed the main themes of multilateralism, social cohesion and bi-regional relations.

With reference to multilateralism, leaders noted that 'an effective multilateral system, based on international law, supported by strong international institutions and with the United Nations at its centre, is essential for achieving peace and international security, sustainable development and social progress.'

They also reaffirmed 'the central role of the United Nations in the promotion of economic and social development and the eradication of poverty and hunger' and expressed support for the UN, while recognising 'the need to make the multilateral system more responsive and effective in meeting global threats and challenges. In this regard, we are committed to the reform and revitalisation of the United Nations, including the General Assembly and the Security Council.'

Leaders also expressed their 'full support for the International Criminal Court as an effective means to combat impunity from the most heinous crimes of concern to the international community' and called on countries which have not yet ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute to do so. Countries which have not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol were urged to do so 'without delay'.

The Declaration condemned 'all forms of abuse, torture and other cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment of persons, including prisoners of war, wherever they occur, and - with reference to Iraq - leaders expressed their 'abhorrence at recent evidence of the mistreatment of prisoners'.

With reference to social cohesion, the Declaration stressed 'that poverty, exclusion and inequality are an affront to human dignity, and that they weaken democracy and threaten peace and stability.' Leaders therefore reiterated their 'commitment to attain the Millennium Development Goals by 2015' and stated their belief 'that the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals should be used as a comprehensive framework for policy dialogue between both regions as they provide a basis for the formulation of measurable objectives.'

In the section on the Bi-regional Relationship, the Declaration 'underline[d] the importance of projected agreements between the European Union and the sub-regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, which together with existing agreements and those under negotiation, will allow us to continue to build on our bi-regional strategic partnership.'

Participants also 'underline[d] the potential of external trade as a catalyst for economic growth' and committed themselves 'to maintain the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as the focal point in the UN System for dealing with the integrated treatment of trade and development' and pledged 'to work together so that the results of UNCTAD XI strengthen the implementation of the conclusions of the Millennium Summit, the Monterrey Consensus and the Johannesburg Summit, and support the negotiations on the Doha Work Programme.'

Prior to the Summit, the European Commission announced the launch of 'EUROsociAL', a new initiative with a budget of €30 million, intended to address 'all policies which have a major impact on social cohesion including taxation, justice, health, education and employment'.

However, European Voice pointed out that nearly €33 million has just been spent on giving Guadalajara a pre-Summit 'makeover' (see: Tree-lined Guadalajara can't hide Latin America's troubles). The same article also forecast that the Summit would not result in 'much more than a ritualistic stressing of the importance which each side attaches to the UN and other multilateral institutions, such as the World Trade Organization.' Despite an assertion by Bertie Ahern that the Summit had been an 'outstanding success', the BBC's view was that the meeting 'reached only limited agreement on trade reform', although the Financial Times reported that 'all sides agreed that progress had been made towards resuming the Doha trade round' (see: Latin America, Caribbean and EU nations call for UN reform).

Related Links
Commentary and Analysis
Human Rights Watch: News, 14/07/2004: Letter to the Governor of the State of Jalisco, Mexico

European Voice (via Politico), 26/05/2004: Tree-lined Guadalajara can’t hide Latin America’s troubles
BBC News, 29/05/2004: Riots mar end of Mexico summit

European Commission: Press Release, 07/04/2004: Commission sets objectives for the next EU-Latin America and Caribbean Summit
European Commission: Press Release, 25/05/2004: EU-Latin American and Caribbean Summit: moving the strategic partnership forward
European Commission: Memo, 25/05/2004: EU-Latin America and Caribbean summit: Overview of European Commission Trade-related Assistance in Latin America
Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Press Release, 27/05/2004: Third EU/Latin America and Caribbean Summit
European Commission: The Rt. Hon Chris Patten Commissioner for External Relations Press conference: Commissioner Patten and President Iglesias at III EU-LAC Summit III EU-LAC Summit Guadalajara (Mexico), 27 May 2004
Council of the European Union: Press Release, 29/05/2004: European Union-Latin America and the Caribbean Summit (Guadalajara, Mexico - 28 and 29 May 2004) - Declaration of Guadalajara

Declaration of the third European Union-Latin America/Caribbean Summit (Guadalajara, 28–29 May 2004) - via

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