Costa Rican diplomat: ‘Window of opportunity can close’ on Latin America-EU relations

Former UN Under Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan warned that this "window of opportunity can close". [Inter-American dialogue/ Flickr]

The head of the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) has insisted that an alliance between Latin America and Europe is crucial to achieving “ambitious agendas” like the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. EURACTIV Spain reports.

SEGIB Secretary General Rebeca Grynspan told an audience in the European Parliament yesterday (21 March) that this particular transatlantic alliance is a significant catalyst for ambitious global pacts.

Grynspan, who was also vice-president of Costa Rica between 1994 and 1998, said that now “is a time of great opportunity between Latin America and Europe” but warned that “it is a window that can close”.

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To this end, the Costa Rican economist pointed out that China has increased its trade with the region by 22 times since the start of the 21st century. However, she acknowledged that the region cannot rely “just on Asia”, even if it is a “source of financial investment”.

But she insisted that Latin America is “bi-oceanic” and that its relations with Europe are “much more symmetrical and horizontal than in the past”.

Deputy Secretary-General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) Christian Leffler pointed out that the peace process in Colombia, cooperation agreements and joint work on climate change are “areas where we can see the close cooperation” between the two regions.

Leffler also cited the EU’s Association Agreements with the different countries of the region, claiming that “they don’t just cover trade cooperation; it’s broader”.

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The talks at the Parliament between different MEPs and analysts is part of a process aimed at preparing a report on renewing strategic relations between the two regions, with a vote expected after the summer.

“Given the international situation, relations between the EU and Latin America have become a real priority for us,” Partit dels Socialistes de Catalunya MEP Javi López (S&D) told EFE, adding that no one shares Europe’s “vision of international relations” in the same way as Latin America.

The window of opportunity to reevaluate the alliance has been opened by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s election victory, according to López.

“When I say that we share the idea of multilateralism with Latin America, it is very important because today we have a White House that doesn’t,” warned the Spanish politician.

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