The Brief: Europe’s Latin love

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

Europe’s long-term relationship with the US has hit a rocky patch and a number of trysts in the East haven’t met expectations. But there’s life in the Old Continent yet, just look at its blooming love affair with Latin America.

When a relationship is circling the plughole, it’s difficult to imagine life going on afterwards. But Europe has put down the tub of Ben & Jerry’s, changed out of its pyjamas and got back out there.

Thanks to Europe’s Spanish wingman, who has helped make the introductions and overcome the language barrier, the love affair with Latin America is starting to heat up. And it appears to be ticking all the boxes already…

Being willing to change is often important in a relationship and today the Commission shared some updates on its Mexico and Mercosur trade talks.Transparency is the new sexy.

It’s all very exciting and the EU has vowed to tie the knot on both deals by the end of the year.

Brazil has also teamed up with the EU to reform farm subsidies at WTO level. Colombia, Peru and Uruguay have supported it already.

Communication is, of course, high on the list, which is why we’re laying an undersea cable across the Atlantic directly to Brazil.

Spending time with each other is also crucial and a number of bilateral deals mean many Latin Americans can enter Schengen without a visa. Bolivia wants a piece of that action too.

Sharing interests is vital. The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement showed that we no longer see eye-to-eye on the climate. Latin America’s big emitters, on the other hand, were quick to ratify the deal.

Nicaragua may be one of only three countries not signed up to the landmark agreement (along with the US and war-torn Syria) but that’s not because it’s in love with fossil fuels. It’s because its leaders decided that the agreement was too weak.

Asking for help is key too. EU firefighters were hailed as heroes when they helped tackle deadly blazes in Chile earlier this year. Brussels was also instrumental in helping Colombia broker its FARC peace deal.

Declarations of love go a long way. EU development chief Stefano Manservisi pledged recently not to “abandon” Latin America. Argentina’s foreign minister also proclaimed Mercosur’s “commitment” to a trade deal with the EU by the end of the year.

And, last but not least, patience can make or break a relationship. The EU is holding off on sanctioning Venezuela after Federica Mogherini said there is still time to negotiate an end to mass unrest.

It could be a match made in heaven. Two parts of the world united by history, culture, language and, more often than not, values.

If things keep moving at this pace,  even if the US does come crawling back, it’ll be too little, too late. It’s nice to see Europe moving on.

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The Roundup

The EU accepted a UN ruling that said Brussels had broken international law by preventing the public from challenging its environmental decisions. The Council overruled the Commission and its position will be presented in mid-September.

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Estonia will use its EU Presidency to secure a Nord Stream 2 negotiating mandate for the Commission but its foreign minister has urged caution in regard to the controversial pipeline project. Its prime minister continued his presidency introductions, meeting UK PM Theresa May earlier.

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UK Brexit minister David Davies was widely criticised for how fleeting his Brussels visit was yesterday. Negotiations continue in his absence. The Scottish government has set out its own expectations on EU citizen rights.

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The election of Emmanuel Macron has helped France top the league table of the world’s ‘soft powers’. Donald Trump’s victory meant the US slipped from last year’s first place to third.

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EU foreign ministers decided to limit exports of inflatable boats and outboard motors to Libya, in hope of making it harder for people to attempt illegal and often deadly sea crossings.

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At a public event, Jobs and Growth Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said sustainable finance is only possible by mobilising private capital. Germany reportedly made more than €1bn out of the Greek debt crisis.

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Vogue magazine has acknowledged what we all already know: that Brussels is a damn fine place to call home.

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Remember our caption competition! Send us your best effort here and if it’s good enough, it could be featured in the next edition of Tweets of the Week!

Look out for…

The college of Commissioners will talk hybrid threats. Employment ministers will meet in Estonia to discuss work-life balance.

Views are the author’s.

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