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International Context Imposes New Challenges on Relations between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean

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29 May 2015|Press Release

ECLAC will contribute a new document to the next EU-CELAC summit, which will be held in Brussels on June 10-11.

(May 29, 2015) The dynamic international scenario—characterized by the technological revolution, the globalization of consumption patterns, the global economy’s organization into major blocs and growing pressure on the environment—presents new challenges and opportunities for the structural relations between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean, according to ECLAC.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) of the United Nations prepared a special publication to be presented as a contribution to the next Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU), which will be held in Brussels on June 10-11, 2015. The document was unveiled today to ambassadors from the Commission’s member countries during a gathering in Santiago, Chile.

In the report entitled The European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean in a New Economic and Social Context, ECLAC analyzes the economic and social realities of both blocs with the aim of deepening dialogue between the regions and seeking common goals that enable them to work for prosperous, cohesive and sustainable societies for their citizens, as the theme of the summit indicates.

“We are certain that this political dialogue (between the EU and CELAC) will spur initiatives oriented towards citizens and aimed at fomenting innovation for sustainable growth, ensuring quality education for all, guaranteeing safety and combating climate change,” Alicia Bárcena, ECLAC’s Executive Secretary, states in the prologue of the document.

According to the publication, the changes in the international context are clearly reflected in the pace of economic growth. For example, between 2003 and 2014, Latin American and Caribbean countries grew at higher rates than European Union countries, thanks to the cycle of high prices for numerous commodities exports. However, prospects for reduced dynamism in international trade portend lower growth between 2015 and 2017, which means that progress is less likely to be made on narrowing the gap with EU countries in terms of per capita income.

In addition, the reduction of poverty in Latin America—which affected 28% of the region’s inhabitants in 2014 versus nearly 44% in 2002—enabled the growth of new middle classes, with their consequent economic and social impacts. Today this sector represents 34% of the population, after having incorporated 82 million people into its ranks between 2000 and 2014.

In environmental matters Latin America and the Caribbean has reached similar levels to those of the EU in terms of annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, despite its lower level of development. In fact, the GHG emissions of the EU have declined on average 0.9% annually since 1990, while in Latin America and the Caribbean a sustained increase of 0.6% annually was seen.