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TRANSOCEANIC RELATIONS BETWEEN LATIN AMERICA AND EUROPE IN THE LAST 30 YEARS: IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Bi-regional Relations
EU-LAC Foundation
EU-LAC
Multilateralism and Regionalism in
Challenging Times: Relations between
Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean
Coordinators: Ernesto Jeger, Diego Durán Cruz, Bruno Theodoro Luciano
EU-LAC Foundation
Multilateralism and Regionalism in
Challenging Times: Relations between Europe
and Latin America and the Caribbean
Coordinators: Ernesto Jeger, Diego Durán Cruz, Bruno Theodoro Luciano
2022
EU-LAC FOUNDATION, 2022
Große Bleichen 35
20354 Hamburg, Germany
https://eulacfoundation.org/en
PUBLISHED BY:
EU-LAC Foundation
GRAPHIC DESIGN: Virginia Scardino | https://www.behance.net/virginiascardino
ISBN: 978-3-949142-14-7
DOI: 10.12858/0422en
This edition was produced by the EU-LAC Foundation. The Foundation is nanced
by its Members and, in particular for this initiative, by the European Union and the
Federal Republic of Germany. The concepts expressed in the articles compiled in this
edition are solely the responsibility of the authors and cannot be considered as the
point of view of the EU-LAC Foundation, its Member States or the European Union.
This publication is copyrighted, although it may be freely reproduced by any means
for educational purposes or to carry out promotion, advocacy or research activities
as long as the source is cited appropriately. The holders of the copyright request to
be informed of the mentioned uses in order to evaluate their impact. To contact the
Foundation via email: info@eulacfoundation.org
INDEX
PRESENTATION IV
INTRODUCTION VI
1. TRANSOCEANIC RELATIONS BETWEEN LATIN AMERICA AND EUROPE IN THE
LAST 30 YEARS: IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN THE
TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
Karina Lilia Pasquariello Mariano, Cairo Gabriel Borges Junqueira,
Bárbara Carvalho Neves 1
2. GEOPOLITICAL HORIZONS FOR THE INTERNATIONAL PROTECTION OF
DEMOCRACY IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Gerardo Caetano Hargain, Diego Hernández Nilson 14
3. CHALLENGES TO DEMOCRACY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION
Isabel Camisão, Bruno Theodoro Luciano 26
4. THE CLIMATE CRISIS, AN OPPORTUNITY FOR REAL COLLABORATION
BETWEEN LATIN AMERICA AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
Sandra Guzmán 41
5. THE GREEN DEAL AND THE NEW GEOPOLITICAL EUROPE
José Antonio Sanahuja 51
6. TRADE, SUSTAINABILITY AND THE COURSE OF THE
MERCOSUR-EUROPEAN UNION NEGOTIATION
Mariana Vazquez 64
7. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND TRADE: THE EUROPEAN UNION
AND MERCOSUR AGREEMENT
Marcus Maurer de Salles, Regiane Nitsch Bressan 75
8. THE EUROPEAN UNION’S PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ABROAD:
THE CASE OF LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Jan Wouters, Gustavo Müller 89
9. DISCUSSING THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
IN LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN AND THE EUROPEAN UNION
Dina Sebastião, Samara Dantas Palmeira Guimarães 100
IV
PRESENTATION
The EU-LAC Foundation and the Regionalism Observatory are pleased to present this
publication that compiles a series of contributions from prominent dedicated to the
analysis of relations between Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean from a multilat-
eral perspective. This book is moreover a continuation of a series of webinars co-organ-
ised by both entities during 2021, whose recordings are available via the following link:
https://www.youtube.com/c/Observat%C3%B3riodeRegionalismoODR
The rst chapter of the book, written by Karina Mariano, Cairo Junqueira and Bárbara
Neves, focuses on the overall EU-LAC relations in such challenging times. Considering the
turbulent scenario seen in both regions, the authors reected upon the following questions:
How have recent geopolitical, economic, health and environmental challenges aected
EU-LAC relations? How relevant is the EU-LAC bi-regional association to address global
collective issues today? What opportunities can be identied for EU-LAC bi-regional re-
lations? What EU-LAC countries need to do in order to seize them? Will future EU-LAC
relations become more or less a priority for both sides of the Atlantic?
In the second part of the book, Gerardo Caetano, Diego Hernández Nilson, Isabel Camisão and
Bruno Luciano assess how democratic and illiberal threats have been aecting both the Europe-
an Union and the Latin America and Caribbean region, as well as the relations between the two,
which has been traditionally grounded in shared norms such as democracy and the rule of law.
In doing so, the authors aimed to address the following questions: How is the European Union
responding to these democratic threats? How eective is the EU rule of law mechanism? How
can the EU give a stronger voice to its citizens? How have Latin American governments and
civil society responded to democratic breakdowns and the rise of illiberal leaders in the region?
How has the region dealt with concrete cases of political, economic and humanitarian crises
such as the one seen in Venezuela? How have these internal democratic drifts aected its ex-
ternal partnerships based on shared values, such as the EU-LAC partnership? Can current EU-
LAC relations still contribute to the defence and promotion of democracy in the two regions?
The chapters from Sandra Guzmán and José Antonio Sanahuja, which focused on the envi-
ronment and climate change agenda, highlight how environmental issues and climate change
have been addressed within EU and LAC regional agenda. Therefore, they reect upon ques-
tions such as: How is the European Union addressing climate change? How does the EU ar-
ticulate its view regarding environmental issues and climate change in multilateral forums?
How do environmental issues aect the interaction of the EU with key partners in international
aairs? How have countries in the LAC region been aected by climate changes? How do they
articulate the need to address environmental issues with economic growth? How have they
articulated a common vision regarding climate change at a regional and global level? How are
environmental issues and climate change introduced in the EU-LAC partnership? How do the
EU and LAC countries manage key challenges in this dimension? Can EU-LAC partnership
evolve into a more meaningful and strategic approach to climate change at a global level?
V
The part on trade and sustainability, composed of contributions from Mariana Vazquez,
Marcus Salles and Regiane Bressan, discusses how the European Union and Latin American
and Caribbean countries have been aected by an increasingly geopolitical trade order, but
also by new sustainability concerns raised by the global climate emergency and the coro-
navirus pandemic. Thus, the authors explored: How have the trade relations between the
EU and Latin American and Caribbean countries been aected by an increasingly assertive
China and its major presence in international trade as well as the new US administration?
Are trade relations between the EU and CELAC countries complementary or contradicto-
ry to the global trade governance underpinned by the World Trade Organization? What
challenges lie ahead for the conclusion of the EU-Mercosur Agreement and what role do
sustainability considerations play in the future of the agreement and of international trade?
The fth part of the book discusses how current global challenges have impacted human rights
in EU and LAC countries. Jan Wouters, Gustavo Müller, Dina Sebastião and Samara Guim-
arães address the following questions: What have the EU and LAC governments been doing
to address social tensions and humanitarian crises endangering human rights? What is the EU
doing to face erosion of human rights and the threat of potential setbacks in a multicultural
Europe? What can EU-LAC cooperation do to put human rights and multiculturalism in the
multilateral agenda? Have their internal related problems negatively aected cooperation in
this eld? Or can they foster solutions for both regions to improve human rights?
The coordinators thank all the experts who contributed to this publication, as well as all the
panellists and attendees who participated in the series of webinars. A special acknowledg-
ment goes to Ilenia Vásquez Ortiz, intern at the EU-LAC Foundation, who assisted with
the revision and edition of this book.
Enjoy the read!
Ernesto Jeger
Senior Programme Manager
EU-LAC Foundation
Diego Durán Cruz
Programme Manager
EU-LAC Foundation
Dr Bruno Theodoro Luciano
Research Fellow
San Tiago Dantas Graduate Program in International Relations
(UNESP/UNICAMP/PUC-SP)
VI
INTRODUCTION
The Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated the multiple crises faced by multilateral insti-
tutions and regional cooperation. The rise of authoritarianism, autarchy, protectionism,
and scepticism towards the scientic community and multilateral institutions has brought
signicant challenges to international cooperation regarding several global agendas. This
trend is particularly observed in the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the
Caribbean (LAC), where regional governance has encountered hardships to eectively
provide regional public goods in times of pandemic. This happened within a background
of the crisis of regionalism and multilateralism in pursuing global pressing agendas. The
status and defence of democracy, environment and climate change, trade and sustainabil-
ity, human rights and multiculturalism, and health, science and technology are some of
the thematic agendas that have been subject to growing need for multilateral cooperation,
given their global implications.
The end of the Cold War did not bring about the homogenisation of a universal political
regime type with the characteristics of liberal democracy. The proliferation and complexi-
cation of interdependent relations did not necessarily lead to such political scenarios.
Alternative regime types, with high concentration of power, emerged in many places. Do-
mestic political processes in several societies strained and jeopardised the civil liberties
and human rights agenda and exposed the limited capacities of the international system to
process humanitarian crises, natural disasters, as well as structural imbalances related to
inequality and inequity. The current pandemic crisis further accelerated this trend, raising
concerns about the possible roll back of civil liberties and human rights and feeding the
existing trend of intolerance and censorship of dissenting opinions.
On the environmental front, although climate change issues have been on the internation-
al political agenda since the 1960s, consensus on the need for sustained and sustainable
cooperation in the ght against climate changes has often been de-prioritised by political
leaders, who have often privileged the national interest. As such, important internation-
al mechanisms, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC), have become limited in their ability to promote a holistic strategy eectively
enforced by all parties. This comes at odds with the fact environmental issues are trans-
national in essence and present a menace to the survival of mankind on a global scale.
The economic-environmental paradox is often used to justify this lack of eective imple-
mentation, shedding light on sustainable development as the proper solution to reconcile
environmental and economic issues and to emphasise their interdependence. The success
of a sustainable approach has to be closely articulated and implemented in a multilateral
environment, involving all relevant actors in international aairs, from international or-
ganisations to states, without ignoring the important role of human communities and the
individual. Despite that, several actors continue to obstruct a global response to climate
VII
change and environmental issues, as demonstrated by persisting alarming levels of pollu-
tion from great powers, such as China and the United States, by marginal progresses made
by countries without the technologic means and nancial resources to adopt a “green”
economy, the then unilateral decision of the Trump administration to drop the Paris Agree-
ment, or by the recent pandemic crisis that negatively aected unrecycled garbage produc-
tion levels.
International trade has been another part of the architecture of the post-war liberal inter-
national order, fundamental to fostering deep integration across continents and regions
and, consequently, ensuring peace and political advancement. Such a liberal paradigm has
been based on the assumption that an open and international order facilitates growth, en-
courages exchanges, and brings countries together. However, this order, which was built
on open multilateral trade, has come under severe strain in recent years. From the WTO
Appellate Body’s crisis, to the nationalist and transactional approaches of key trade actors
like China and the United States, the multilateral trading system has suered severe blows.
Additionally, new challenges like the increased alarm over climate change and the global
coronavirus pandemic, call the existing trade status quo into question.
The EU has often found itself as a key player in leading eorts in favour of open and
fair trade. Its relationship across the Atlantic with the Community of Latin American
and Caribbean States (CELAC) has been no exception to the Union’s trade priorities.
Together, the CELAC States represent a major trading partner for the EU, maintaining
close political and cooperative ties with the single market. Various interregional associ-
ation agreements, economic partnership agreements, multiparty trade agreements and
bilateral framework agreements are components of this relationship. Nonetheless, these
trade links too are not insulated from recent changes in the global trade landscape nor
from pressure on the multilateral order. New global dynamics resulted, for example, in
the EU’s signicant loss of market share in Latin America and the Caribbean, mainly to
China. This has, however, not prevented the EU and Mercosur countries from renewing,
in 2019, their commitment to multilateralism and fair trade by concluding an ‘agree-
ment in principle’ on the trade pillar of an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement after
two decades of talks, although there have been diculties in the ratication process in
both regions. If ratied, it will bring the total number of LAC countries with trade and
association agreements with the EU to 31.
Regarding the human rights agenda, the Universal Declaration of 1948 was a hope to glo-
balise human dignity. Freedom and equality in dignity and rights to every human being
should be seen as the foundations of any democracy, guaranteed by the rule of law. Many
countries in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean proclaimed their commitment with
VIII
the Charter, although the bipolar world of the Cold War soon unveiled the realism of inter-
national relations, compromising the building of truly multicultural societies. With the end
of the Cold War, the globalised economy was expected to foster development and income
rise, but this was not equally delivered. The 2008 great recession, the global migration in-
crease, and climate change have been unveiling inequalities as a trigger point to a retreat
on human rights and multiculturalism. And Covid-19 may even worsen this scenario.
Furthermore, Health and Science & Technology have been seen as intertwined determi-
nants to social wellbeing and economic development. Considered a priority in all areas of
policymaking, such issues reect directly not only in societal health but especially in issues
of poverty and inequality around the globe. In 1978, the Declaration of Alma-Ata, an out-
come of the International Conference on Primary Health Care, rearmed health as a fun-
damental human right, pointing to the urgent need of a joint action to protect and promote
the health of all people in the world, linking health to other goals in social and economic
sectors. In 1979, during the 32nd World Health Assembly, the World Health Organization
(WHO) launched the “Global Strategy for health for all by the year 2000”. WHO invited its
member states to individually act by formulating national policies, strategies and plans of
action as well as collectively formulate regional and global health strategies. In the Europe-
an agenda, such eorts resulted in the implementation of the Health in All Policies (HiAP),
focusing on health equity, protection and promotion, across policy areas, especially since
2006. The HiAP has aimed to translate into public policies the need of considering the im-
plication of decisions in distinct areas and subjects to health and health systems, defending
that a global synergy could avoid harmful health impacts and promote health equity.
At the same time, countries of the LAC region created and supported regional spaces for
debate and joint actions since the beginning of the 2000s, especially on the sanitary and
education agenda. Such eorts resulted in regional institutions that aimed to reorganize
the regional context through the implementation of new cooperation agendas, creating
governance models to articulate governments and its experts, as well as to facilitate the
reallocation of resources through the continent. This process resulted as in the European
case, in milestones for establishing health as a universal right. In 2000, Mercosur countries,
together with Bolivia and Chile, signed the Social Commitment Letter of Buenos Aires,
establishing its compromise to promote full access to health services, as well as to improve
the quality of life and wellbeing of their populations. Other institutions and regional spac-
es, such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR)’s Health Institute (ISAGS),
also followed this direction.
Despite signicant development of the agenda on health since the 2000s in both regions,
the Covid-19 Pandemic exposed limitations and structural bottlenecks in these areas. The
IX
European Union was the second Covid-19 transmission epicentre, facing initial dicul-
ties in 2020 to control its spreading and its consequences. Despite well-structured health
systems and some level of health policies coordination, many problems aected the Euro-
pean continent from 2020. In LAC, the ineectiveness of the regional institutions, in part
due to their dismantling and discredit by national governments, resulted in a very limited
regional response to the Covid-19 global health crisis, making Latin America the region
with most cases and death numbers so far. Both scenarios reected the prioritisation of
unilateral and bilateral actions to the detriment of regional and global multilateral actions
and decision-making.
Considering this pressing global scenario on multiple fronts, this edited volume aims to
shed some light on how these contemporary challenges have been aecting EU-LAC in-
ter-regional relations, exploring concrete topics of the agenda such as democracy, climate
change, trade, human rights, and health. EU-LAC inter-regional relations have been tradi-
tionally conceived as a long-standing, multidimensional and productive dialogue. Besides
the historical ties among both regions, in 1999 a Strategic Partnership between the EU
and LAC countries was established, with the aim of institutionalizing, deepening, and
expanding this bi-regional relationship. The creation of the Community of Latin Ameri-
can and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2010 brought an opportunity for a more structured
EU-LAC dialogue, which became organised into EU-CELAC Summits and Action Plans.
Despite having much in common, EU-LAC interactions are in necessity to be consolidated
and strengthened. There has not been a Summit since 2015 and few high-level visits have
taken place since then. During the same time, other international actors are moving for-
ward. The US has maintained constant engagement with both regions and especially now
with the Biden administration. Chinese investment in LAC increased tenfold between 2008
and 2018 and China recently overtook the EU as Latin America's second most important
trading partner. What is more, multiple crises have emerged in recent years, posing new
challenges to current and future EU-LAC relations. For instance, due to the political and
humanitarian crises of Venezuela, the organisation of CELAC Summits was jeopardised,
which has also aected EU-CELAC high level meetings. At the same time, the EU has had
to deal with crises in its neighbourhood and within the bloc itself with the UK's exit (Brex-
it). More recently, the contestation of multilateral institutions by leaderships in Europe and
LAC countries as well as the Covid-19 pandemic brought new diculties for ongoing and
future regional and inter-regional cooperation, which deserve more attention from poli-
cy-makers, scholars and civil society actors.
By gathering experts on these topics from the two regions to discuss over key issues on
the bi-regional agenda, this book starts from making a diagnosis of both European and
Latin America regions in addressing such thematic challenges, to further reect upon
X
the current challenges faced by EU-LAC inter-regional relations and possible solutions
which may support actors from the two regions to overcome recent diculties by sup-
porting joint bi-regional coordination. Moreover, this publication aims to foster a broad-
er dialogue on the bi-regional relations, by going beyond the intergovernmental agen-
da and providing a reexive assessment of the contribution of other actors involved in
EU-LAC relations such as parliamentarians and members of civil society organisations,
aiming at developing a more comprehensive and plural debate on topical issues of the
bi-regional agenda.
Dr. Adrián Bonilla
Executive Director
EU-LAC Foundation
Dr. Karina Lilia Pasquariello Mariano
Coordinator of the Regionalism Observatory
San Tiago Dantas Graduate Program in International Relations
UNESP
1
1. INTRODUCTION
What denes Europe and Latin America as regions? Schimmelfennig (2016) states that the
rst represents a historical construction based on three perspectives: geographical, civilisa-
tional and institutional. Therefore, it encompasses the western peninsula of Eurasia, the an-
cient features of Christianity and the modern features of the West, as well as the symbol of
regional organisations, respectively. As for the latter, the author states that, in political and me-
dia discourses, Europe is associated almost as a synonym for the European Union (EU) itself.
This breadth also appears in the possible denitions of Latin America, which comprise
four dimensions: geographical, historical, idiomatic and "peripheral". Thus, it relates the
countries colonised by Spain, Portugal or France, owners of languages derived from Latin
and that are inscribed in a historical dynamic of exploitation and inferiorisation. According
to Prado (1999), the name of Latin America was invented in the nineteenth century to mark
a certain regional identity in the midst of the processes of independence and the creation of
the Monroe Doctrine by the United States in 1823. In addition, with the division between
a Saxon America and a Latin America (Farret and Pinto 2011), the idea of Latin America
is also constituted as a reection of the imperialist disputes for inuence on the continent
between France and the United States (Quental 2012).
However, in contemporaneity the concept came much closer to identifying an economic
situation than a cultural one, since for Bruit (2000) this terminology was consolidated af-
ter the Second World War, based on the idea of underdevelopment, after the creation of
the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). Lambert (1979)
emphasises that the concept of Latin America incorporated countries that in principle did
1. TRANSOCEANIC RELATIONS BETWEEN
LATIN AMERICA AND EUROPE IN
THE LAST 30 YEARS: IDENTIFYING
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN
THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY1
Karina Lilia Pasquariello Mariano | Universidad Estatal de San Pablo (UNESP)
Cairo Gabriel Borges Junqueira | Universidad Federal de Sergipe (UFS)
Bárbara Carvalho Neves2 | San Tiago Dantas Graduate Program in
International Relations (UNESP/UNICAMP/PUC-SP)
1. This chapter has been developed thanks to the joint work and research of the Observatory of Regionalism (ODR),
the three authors being research members thereof, and the Development, International Policy and Peace Network
(DIPP) - within the scope of the CAPES-PrInt Programme, process number 88887.310463/2018-00.
2. This author appreciates the scholarship granted by the Brazilian Federal Agency for the Support and Evalu-
ation of Postgraduate Education (CAPES), within the scope of the CAPES-PrInt Programme, process number
88887.310463/2018-00, Mobility number {88887.569777/2020- 00}.
2
not belong to the former Spanish and Portuguese colonies, since from 1964 the own Demo-
graphic Yearbooks of the United Nations incorporated Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, Trin-
idad and Tobago, Suriname and the Guyanas into the group of Latin American countries.
The terminological conception of Latin America can be considered as a Europe-
an invention (Mignolo 2007), already demonstrating that the relations between both re-
gions follow long-term processes and with dierent moments that present very dierent
characteristics: the economic and social inequality that exists between these regions, and
the European inuence in Latin American countries. Historically and politically, relations
between the regions began a long time ago and date back to 1492, when Latin America
became a central aspect of modernity for the Eurocentric world (Dussel 1993).
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Latin America was fully connected to Europe in
economic and migratory terms. Consequently, as Dehne (2014) points out, European coun-
tries sought diplomatic advantages in the region during the First World War, a conict that
was shaping Latin American identity and gave rise to a great inuence of the United States,
which has increased over the decades.
Latin America's identity established a break with its colonial past, seeking to diversify eco-
nomic alliances and promote the development of the region autonomously, making it pos-
sible to overcome the peripheral situation experienced by the region. That was the focus
of ECLAC from the 1950s, determining the bases of future regional agreements that will
be established years later, such as the Latin American Free Trade Association (LATFA) in
1960, the Andean Community (CAN) in 1969, the Latin American Integration Association
(ALADI) in 1980 and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) in 1991. It is important to
note that this search for a distancing occurred under a logic of European inuence, since
the initial model of Latin American regionalism was the European Coal and Steel Commu-
nity (ECSC), the origin of the EU.
As for the nancial and economic aspects, European banks and industries played an im-
portant role in promoting import substitution policies in Latin America between 1940 and
1960, relations that were a few losing strength. As Vellinga (1993) points out, the trade
relationship between the countries of Latin America and Europe subsequently stagnated:
in 1965, about 8% of the European Economic Community's (EEC) exports went to Latin
America, falling to 6% in 1983 and 4.9% in 1987. The 1980s were very complicated for
Latin Americans, a period known as the "lost decade" in the economic sphere. However,
contrary to the author's own prognosis of stimulating only bilateral relations between the
countries of both regions, the 1990s inaugurated a new interregional stage. In other words,
the dialogue between Europe and Latin America is broad, plural and should be seen as
a non-linear process that goes through moments of greater development and others of
greater scepticism.
The current scenario of European and Latin American regionalisms is covered by a dy-
namic of deglobalisation that considers the general rules of social organisation, encom-
passing regional and international institutions, as redundant or harmful to political and
economic relations between countries (James 2018). In Europe, movements such as Brexit
paved the way for the great interruption of the EU's enlargement dynamics, while in Lat-
3
in America various tensions erupted that interrupted the processes of deepening Latin
American regionalism.
Can the movements of critical conjuncture in each of the regions also be observed in the
relations between Latin America and Europe? If some mutual interests between the two
regions have been established historically, how are they analytically dimensioned over the
past three decades? What are the biggest challenges and great opportunities in the current
Strategic Partnerships established between the EU and Latin America?
To support these issues, the chapter aims to analyse EU-LAC interregional relations by
placing them in the contemporary context of the disruptions of regionalism. In addition
to this introduction and the nal considerations, the following two sections propose to
measure the transoceanic relations between the regions in the last thirty years, with special
emphasis on the global and systemic challenges that arise to the current dynamics of the
twenty-rst century. The nal conclusion is that future prospects in the EU-LAC relation-
ship must be guided by multiple gains that must move away from unilateral preferences.
2. TRANSOCEANIC RELATIONS BETWEEN LATIN AMERICA AND
EUROPE IN THE LAST 30 YEARS
From the 1980s there was a rapprochement between Europe and Latin America, promoted
by a particular juncture that was globalisation. As this process progressed, it stimulated in-
ternal changes in the two regions and facilitated the convergence of interests and values on
both sides. Europe embarked on a new integrationist cycle based on the Single European
Act that broadened the number of participants and deepened integration with the propos-
al to create monetary union among its members.
In Latin America, the processes of political re-democratisation facilitated the resumption of
negotiations for regional cooperation, which were invariably inspired by the European expe-
rience for the construction of regional blocs. Unlike Europe, which sought in integration an
instrument to increase security and guarantee its role in the international system, for Latin
American countries the main concern was to insert themselves into a globalised world.
In any case, the option to promote integration as a way to respond to the challenges of glo-
balisation led to the negotiation of inter-regional agreements that cover economic, political
and social aspects, incorporating in the negotiation values and principles such as democra-
cy, human rights, multilateralism, environment and quality of life.
These issues are part of the EU-LAC Summits that have been taking place since the end of
the 90s, which bring together heads of state and government with the purpose of build-
ing a bi-regional community. Each summit deals with a specic theme, based on previous
agreements reached on the political scene, within the framework of a Bi-regional Strategic
Partnership based on the intensication of political dialogue, together with the reinforce-
ment of promoting cooperation in the commercial, economic and cultural areas.
4
From this Strategic Partnership there was a growing European contribution to nance pro-
grammes developed in this area: 264 million euros were allocated for the period 2002-2006
and 556 million euros for the following period from 2007 to 2013 (Romero and Mariano
2020). European nancing is an indication that over the last three decades this rapproche-
ment between Latin America and Europe would be marked by what (Vogel 2007) Vogel
called common interests: promotion of peace, freedom and economic well-being.
These interests are the basis of the negotiations that began in 1995 between the two regions
and that over time expanded the themes, incorporating issues such as cultural coopera-
tion, education, territorial integration, sustainable development, etc. However, the focus of
these agreements remains the issue of trade liberalisation.
The European strategy for LAC was to establish Association Agreements that sought to
consolidate economic/commercial interests, as well as to strengthen cooperation on politi-
cal and social issues for which the EU intends to strengthen its role in dening multilateral
rules. On the other hand, Latin American countries seek with this participation to attract
investments that allow them to promote processes of economic and social development,
while improving their insertion in global value chains. These Association Agreements ne-
gotiated bilaterally by the EU have a common main structure, but they vary in the way
the negotiations are conducted, as it is dierent for each case and conforms to the specic
conditions presented by each country or bloc (Levi Coral 2010).
For Europe, negotiation with regional blocs is a way to reinforce their role as a model in
the international system, while for Latinos it is a way to increase their negotiating capacity,
especially in trade aspects. In this way, the '90s represent an important change in rela-
tions between the two regions, marked by the negotiations to concretize these Association
Agreements between the EU and the Andean Community (CAN), the Central American
Common Market (CACM), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM).3
Building on the EU's relations with the CACM, although the United States has historically
been Central America's main trading partner, and China has now displaced Europe as
the second largest exporter in the subregion, the EU still has a signicant trade and in-
vestment presence in the region. In addition, there is a strong European inuence in the
same Central American integrationist process, which has had the contributions of Euro-
pean support programmes, such as the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) that
seeks to promote the sustainable environment, mitigate climate change, stimulate growth
with inclusion for human development, contribute to the educational eld, in security and
governance, among others.
Despite the European inuence in the CACM, it was only possible to sign an agreement
with the countries of that bloc that has a strong commercial component in 2010. That agree-
ment has been provisionally applied since 2013, that is, it has not yet been fully implement-
ed because it was not ratied by the European bodies. An important aspect to highlight is
3. All information about the agreements was removed from the EU's ocial website. For more information see
https://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/negotiations-and-agreements/.
5
the content of trade between the two regions: Central American countries basically export
coee, bananas, pineapples and microchips to Europe; and import medicines, oil and cars.
The same dynamic occurs in relation to the Caribbean and Andean countries. In the case of
the Caribbean, the EU promoted negotiations with CARICOM, which is an integrationist
process as old as the CACM. Despite being an area of strong inuence of the United States,
which is its main trading partner, it has historical ties with Europe and strong trade rela-
tions with the European bloc. Like its Central American counterpart, CARICOM signed in
2008 the Economic Partnership Agreement with the EU, which is also in a provisionally
applicable situation.
Another similarity with Central Americans concerns the contents of trade between the
regions, since the Caribbean is also an exporter of primary products for the EU, while
importing industrial products. CARICOM countries export to Europeans basically fuels
and mining products, in particular petroleum gas and oils, bananas, sugar and rum, iron
ore products and fertilisers. And they import boats, ships, cars, construction vehicles and
engine parts, telephone equipment, milk and cream, and distilled beverages.
With the Andean countries members of the CAN, the EU established bi-regional coopera-
tion from its predecessors, implementing over the years various programmes to promote
development and cooperation, such as the PED-ALA and the Generalised System of Prefer-
ences (GSP) for Developing Countries (from 1973 to 1982), the Cooperation Agreement (be-
tween 1983 and 1992), and the 1991 GSP-Andean, which allowed most Andean industrial
exports, some shing and agricultural, to enter the EU duty-free. The GSP-Andean was in
force until 2004, when it was revised to conform to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
The extensive cooperation between the two regions was not enough to reduce the growing
impasse in the negotiations of the EU-CAN Agreement, especially due to the dierent eco-
nomic positions between the Andean partners. While Peru and Colombia were in favour
of greater prioritisation of trade issues, Bolivia and Ecuador questioned these aspects and
the liberalising logic that was being adopted in the CAN.
Tensions prevented the signing of an agreement between the blocs, which led the EU to
propose a bilateral negotiation, abandoning interregional negotiations regarding the trade
component of the agreement, maintaining political dialogue and development cooperation
at the bi-regional level (Sanahuja 2013). Initially, only Colombia and Peru agreed to sign
the free trade agreement proposed by the EU, whose trade negotiations were closed in
March 2010. However, the agreement was signed only in 2012, and is not yet fully ratied,
partially operational since 2013. In addition, Ecuador joined the agreement only in 2017.
Currently, the EU is the main investor in the Andean countries and the third largest trading
partner. Until the rst decade of the twenty-rst century, Europe was the second largest
trading partner, but the few were displaced by China, which has also increased invest-
ments in those countries. In relation to trade, more than once, the members of the CAN
export primary products, while importing manufactured products.
6
In turn, Mercosur is presented in a dierent context. This process had a strong European
inuence from the beginning, with what academics called institutional mimicry (Medeiros,
Meunier, and Cockles 2015), which stimulated the signing of the Interinstitutional Cooper-
ation Agreement between the EU and Mercosur, which provided European support for the
institutional consolidation of Mercosur and contributed to the expansion of its institution-
alism, such as the creation of the Mercosur Parliament (Parlasur) for example.
The strong European interest in Mercosur occurred because this project brought together
the two main economies of South America (Brazil and Argentina, respectively), which are
important countries in agricultural trade, but also have an important industrial park and a
large consumer market. These economic attractions underpinned the start of negotiations
to establish an Interregional Cooperation Agreement in 1995 ("ACORDO-QUADRO IN-
TER-REGIONAL DE COOPERAÇÃO" 1995) which will constitute the largest interregional
agreement in the world.
However, the negotiations dragged on for almost three decades, often hampered by eco-
nomic instabilities especially in South American countries and political tensions on both
sides of the Atlantic. The conclusion of the negotiations in June 2019 was possible only
because there was a favourable political situation: in Europe the trauma of Brexit allowed
to expand support for the negotiations, while in south American countries the assumption
of right-wing governments could soften the resistance of some economic sectors that found
it more dicult to oppose the agreement.
The main resistance to this agreement on the part of the Europeans is from the agricultural
sectors afraid of South American competition, while on the side of Mercosur they are from
the industrialists. This is explained by the trade balance between the two regions: while
75% of Mercosur exports to Europe are primary products, almost 85% of imports are man-
ufactured (European Commission 2021).
Still, the conclusion of the negotiations did not mean the implementation of the agreement
that has yet to be ratied by the competent bodies of each party. That process has proven
slower and more dicult than expected, especially from European countries that face re-
sistance not only from economic groups, but also from political actors such as environmen-
talists and left-wing groups that criticize South American governments considered illiberal.
The analysis of trade relations between LAC and the EU shows that there are signicant
disparities between the interests of the regions. The agreements were possible with those
countries that opted for a productive specialisation, accepting their role as suppliers of
commodities to the European market, while importing manufactures or transforming
them into assembly platforms, as in the case of Mexico. But for those who seek to base their
economic development on industrialisation, these interregional agreements prove chal-
lenging and limiting.
On the other hand, relations between the two continents cannot and should not be restrict-
ed only to trade aspects, as there are many common challenges against which we nd
important convergences between LAC and the EU. Part of this agenda is incorporated in
7
the initiative of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which
we can consider as an initiative for cooperation and political coordination between Latin
American and Caribbean States. Likewise, this has been an important platform for cooper-
ation with other parts of the world, especially the EU, to face the challenges of the current
international context, as we will discuss in the next section.
3. THE GLOBAL CHALLENGES OF THE TWENTYFIRST CENTURY
Although the beginning of the twenty-rst century has reected important advances in
dierent areas for LAC, for EU countries, and for interregional relations between the EU-
LAC, since the event of the global nancial crisis in 2008, the world has been in a new
moment, of changes and continuous crises. At the global level, the nancial crisis, added
to the end of the commodity boom, led to a gradual retraction of countries inward, to the
detriment of the multilateral eorts and spaces hitherto promoted.
In turn, what was characterised by the crisis of multilateralism (Scantimburg et al. 2019),
reected a scenario of instability and stress resulting from political and economic changes
in the main centres of power of the International System: the United States, the European
Union and China (Homann 2020). These changes have directly aected multilateral insti-
tutions and international regimes, once the power relations in the international structure
were modied. The emergence of new political leadership in the dierent regions of the
world impacts on the already established patterns of interaction, redening the role that
international institutions can have in this new context.
The institutions mirror the expectations and interests of their members regarding the fu-
ture of the International System in the dierent issues discussed there. With the incidence
of successive crises and changes in national spaces, a consequence of interdependent in-
ternational dynamics (Weien 2020), States and non-state actors begin to seek the develop-
ment of dierent cooperation mechanisms to meet the new demands on the rise.
In a cyclical and co-constituted way, crises at the international level drive changes at the
national level that reect in the change of national policies and their patterns of interaction
that modify the way in which countries seek to insert themselves into the International
System. In this dynamic, national changes resulted in greater stress from these States to
modify international structures and organisations in order to meet demands and solve
constantly changing problems. Based on this understanding, reecting on these changes is,
as Mariano, Menezes, and Moreira Junior (2017: 13, our translation) point out, "[...] a rst
step in understanding the international system and its future deployments."
Weien (2020) qualies the dierent factors and variables that put pressure, at a global
level, on existing transoceanic institutions and relations, these being: economic; political;
security; sociocultural challenges; power changes; and the spread of crises at the regional
level. Each of these factors also aects international institutions by impacting each State
in dierent ways, limiting the scope of eorts established at dierent levels – national,
regional and international.
8
Firstly, economic challenges relate to macroeconomic crises of a monetary, economic, s-
cal, debt, nancial market and banking nature. As Weien (2020: 22, our translation) re-
minds us, "due to the global interconnection of economies and nancial markets, crises
often spread transregionally." In addition, the economic challenges that arise under times
of crisis also impact the social indices of the countries, such as the unemployment rate from
the decrease in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the face of a period of recession that
expands the poverty rate and the percentages of inequality.
Secondly, there are political challenges. Some of these challenges reect the economic prob-
lems faced globally, as they worsen the social impact of globalisation, leading to political
crises. The expansion of poverty and inequality act as a trigger for the dissatisfaction of
the people and the economic elites of each country, generating strikes, popular protests,
internal conicts and the overthrow of governments (Weien 2020).
When considering the case of LAC, what we see is the growing distance of these States
from regional institutions that made bridges with other regions. The recent political chang-
es in the region, which brought to power right-wing and far-right governments, character-
ised a new moment of rupture of the political convergence existing at the beginning of the
2000s (Junqueira and Milani 2019; Neves and Honório 2019).. The end of this convergence
weakens the regional institutions created that cease to present themselves as eective spac-
es for cooperation and solution of common problems (Junqueira, Neves, and Souza 2020).
Faced with the stress of the political aspect of Latin American countries, and the dierent
uprisings that took place between 2013 and 2021 in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Co-
lombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, as a reection of popular dissatisfaction with their
governments and internal problems, a common factor was present in the way in which
States reacted to these scenarios: violence.
In this way, and as Junqueira, Neves and Souza (2020) discuss, one of the most aected
aspects during these periods of instability and political crisis throughout these years, and,
mainly, the year of 2019, was democracy: a relevant factor for the guarantee of justice and
strong institutions that are necessary conditions not only for regional integration (Mala-
mud and Schmitter 2007) but also for the maintenance of the political and economic rela-
tions of these States with the world.
Therefore, the lack of democracy, which results in problems such as poverty and inequal-
ity, is presented as one of the current challenges to the extent that it ends up impacting
the external positioning of these States and their relations with the region and with other
international actors (Junqueira, Neves and Souza 2020), in addition to further distancing
these countries from the fullment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the
United Nations.
Thirdly, there are security challenges, pointed out by Weien (2020) as those that include
conicts, humanitarian crises, etc. In this factor a current example is that referring to the
European problem with Russia, who occupied Crimea in 2014 and has been gradually
pressuring the occupation of Ukraine, reaching a very critical scenario towards the EU by
positioning Russian military on the border with Ukraine in 2022.
9
Security challenges also impact the socio-cultural dimension, forming the fourth aspect of
stress over institutions in the twenty-rst century, caused by the displacement of people
and refugee movements. Fifthly, the twenty-rst century marks the change of powers in
the International System. Since the end of the Cold War, we have seen gradual changes and
modications to the current structure, but they have not signicantly altered it.
However, the growth of the Chinese economy and its rise as a power actor (Homan 2020)
mark a new period of power shifts, with the intensication of international dependency
relations of other countries in the world with China (Junqueira and Milani, 2019). This
change stands out in Latin America once most countries in the region have China as their
main trading partner (Ray and Gallagher 2017).
The growing Chinese demand for Latin American raw materials in the twenty-rst century
marked the commodity boom that, with its end from 2008, puts pressure on the patterns of
international political and economic relations by gradually modifying the balance of pow-
er between the centre and the periphery. In turn, this element becomes another challenge
in the current scenario because it presents itself as a new source of stress in international
relations and geopolitical conicts (Vadell 2011).
In addition, what has been discussed with the growing presence of China as a relevant ac-
tor that can occupy the role of the United States in the status quo, are the conditions behind
this presence, mainly in the eld of the environment, an issue of great importance when
evaluating relations between LAC and the EU. By occupying the position of provider of
aid and investment, not only to LAC, but also to Asia and Africa, China - to some extent -
ends up exporting its development model.
As detailed by Avendano, Melguizo and Miner (2017), from 2003 to 2017 more than 110
billion dollars were invested in Latin America by Chinese companies, mainly in the mining
sector (Neves 2021). Even so, another sector of great importance for Chinese investments is
in the eld of transport and energy, which presents great challenges to the environmental
issue (Leite and Neves 2019).
Finally, as a last element is the crisis of the EU after the achievement of Brexit. In addition
to presenting itself as a challenge to the other models of regional integration in the world
(Homan 2020), the EU crisis adds to the critical scenario of the disintegrating and dis-
crediting tendencies of multilateralism by governments that question the eectiveness of
multilateralism as a legitimate instrument to solve common problems (Weien 2020).
All these challenges that are currently presented end up putting pressure not only on the
relations of the LAC countries and the EU regionally, as they are presented as factors that
seem to distance these regions from the cooperative eorts hitherto promoted. As Gratius
(2020) discusses, all these conjunctural factors, especially the Brexit process and the stress of
regionalism in Europe and Latin America, have negatively impacted transregional relations.
What we see in recent years is the trend towards what is called 'regionalism à la carte' - a
process in which countries orient their actions at the regional level and their participations
in regional organisations based on their domestic preferences. In turn, this trend puts pres-
10
sure on the capacity of these regional institutions to act and consequently, transregional
relations become more unstable and dicult to materialise.
4. FINAL CONSIDERATIONS
Reecting on the transoceanic relations between Latin America and the Caribbean, and Eu-
rope (LAC-EU), we question the relevance of the relationship between regions to respond
to these global challenges, mainly as we approach the year 2030 – framework of the SDG
Agenda. How have the political, economic, social, and environmental challenges present-
ed have aected relations between LAC and the EU and how relevant is this bi-regional
relationship to combat these global problems currently faced?
EU-LAC relations in the face of challenges end up assuming a more bilateral character, in
which cooperation eorts between regions through multilateral summits are enriched. In
addition, the obstacles of the summits and negotiations between Mercosur and the EU for
more than 20 years and the collapse of the EU-CELAC Summits point to the decline of the
model of interregional cooperation based on dialogue throughout regional blocs.
What was seen over time in the rapprochement eorts between the EU and LAC was the
prioritisation of unilateral trade agreements, not deepening multiple gains or the SDG tar-
gets. LAC continues to be for the EU a region that, for the most part, exports primary
goods, which maintains the diculties inherent to the region, such as poverty, weaknesses
in its production chains, low awareness of environmental care and social inequality.
In this sense, the centrality of the trade issue is what explains the diculty in concluding
these agreements, since it is the point that generates most of the divergences, especially
due to the possible economic and social impacts on countries, even Europeans who are
very jealous in agricultural matters, in which Latin Americans are more competitive.
Another important aspect at this stage of bi-regional relations is that trade negotiations
prioritised regional blocs, which made them more complex, and especially increased trade
tensions, delaying the conclusion of agreements, which were substantially modied over
time, incorporating new issues and demands.
However, trade relations remain a central point in the EU-LAC partnership, especially in the
European interest of becoming an important trading partner of the region. In this case, it fac-
es historical American competition and more recently the Chinese presence that has expand-
ed its redirection by redirecting the focus of the American countries to the Pacic region.
Finally, on a more positive note, transoceanic relations between the EU and Latin Amer-
ica can also be strengthened to the extent that regions face common problems that cross
borders and, in isolation, in such an interconnected world, are dicult to resolve, such as:
public health issues - as seen with Covid-19, the growing of populist and far-right parties,
inequality, climate change, territorial conicts and their impacts on humanitarian security.
11
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De uma maneira geral, assumimos de modo tão naturalizado as designações e os recortes geográficos das regiões que visualizamos em mapas ou que utilizamos como referência de pertencimento e localização, que dificilmente nos questionamos sobre os processos que instituíram esses nomes e desenhos cartográficos. O conceito de América Latina, habitualmente utilizado tanto na linguagem comum como em textos de jornais e trabalhos acadêmicos para denotar apenas uma localização geográfica guarda, no entanto, um forte sentido político. A partir da metodologia da História dos Conceitos e do diálogo com autores da perspectiva teórica do pensamiento decolonial, este trabalho busca recuperar e explicitar o conteúdo político e de ação no mundo presente sobre o conceito de América Latina.
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Desde sua fundação em 1991, o Mercosul tem sido caracterizado por seus mecanismos intergovernamentais e pelo processo de tomada de decisão fundado no consenso. Uma vez que esta dinâmica situa os Executivos ¬na-cionais no centro do processo de integração, levantam-se questões concernentes à representação e à legitimidade no estudo da instituição regional. Partindo do conceito de fenômenos de difusão política, o artigo aborda a busca por legitimidade por meio do mimetismo: testa-se a hipótese de que os intercâmbios plurais do Mercosul com a União Europeia criam tanto regras internas importando o modelo europeu, quanto cooperação técnica difundindo práticas institucionais. O desenho institucional influenciado por uma organização mais antiga e consolidada pode ser instrumentalizado como uma fonte de legitimidade, fomentada por funcionários do Mercosul e comunidades epistêmicas. Entretanto, essas normas regionais são diferentemente incorporadas pelos Estados-membros, motivo pelo qual, em um segundo momento, o trabalho confronta os resultados da análise da difusão institucional no Mercosul com dados sobre a efetiva internalização dessas normas, objetivando desta forma desvelar como se estabelece a ponte entre a busca por legitimidade regional e a eficácia doméstica da normativa. O resultado da análise empírica empreendida no contexto do marco teórico adotado mostra que existe um canal de transferência política entre a União Europeia e o Mercosul, atuando por meio de: (i) regras internas que importam diretamente o modelo europeu; (ii) cooperação técnica difundindo práticas institucionais; (iii) harmonização normativa de modo a favorecer in¬terações futuras.
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The experience of the European Union is the most significant and far-reaching among all attempts at regional integration. It is, therefore, the most likely to provide some lessons for those world regions that are just beginning this complex process. In turn, the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and the Andean Community (CAN) are among the regional integration projects that have reached the greatest level of formal accomplishment after the EU. MERCOSUR is a customs union that aspires to become a common market, while avowing the commitment to advance towards political integration. For its part, CAN is a customs union that has already developed supranational institutions such as a Commission, a Parliament and a Court of Justice. In both cases, however, words have progressively tended to wander far from deeds. One reason underlying this phenomenon may be a misunderstanding of the European experience with integration. In this article, we discuss the theories that have been developed to account for integration in Europe and may prove useful to understand integration elsewhere and put forward a set of lessons that could be drawn from the European experience. Subsequently, we introduce a description of the experience of integration in South America and reflect (critically) on how the theories and lessons drawn from the EU could be applied to this region –and beyond.
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