The EU, Germany and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have a vital interest in a rules‑based international order governed not by the law of the strong, but by the strength of the law. They seek to find solutions to global challenges such as the COVID‑19 pandemic and the climate crisis together and via multilateral fora. To this end, the EU has agreed a Strategic Partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean. Germany also launched a Latin America and Caribbean Initiative in 2019, adding impetus to closer cooperation in a range of different fields.
Strategic Partnership between the EU and Latin America
The Strategic Partnership between the EU and Latin America covers all of the countries in the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean, and thus more than a billion people in total. It was founded in June 1999 at the first EU‑LAC Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The two regions cooperate closely in the spheres of politics, business, culture, and science and technology on the basis of this Partnership. As well as summits bringing together the heads of state and government, there are regular meetings of ministers and senior officials. These serve as a forum for political dialogue on important global issues and as a catalyst for shaping concrete elements of bilateral relations, such as association or partnership agreements and the focus of development cooperation. Association agreements with individual regional groups or countries are an essential component of EU relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
In 2008, the EU concluded a comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) subgroup of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). Negotiations on an Association Agreement with Central America and a multi‑party trade agreement with Peru and Colombia were concluded during the 2010 EU‑LAC Summit. These agreements entered into force in 2013. Ecuador then joined the multi‑party agreement in January 2017. The negotiations on a comprehensive Association Agreement between the EU and Mercosur were concluded in 2019; this agreement has not yet been ratified.
The EU’s wide‑ranging Global Agreement with Mexico and Association Agreement with Chile (in force since 2000 and 2005 respectively) are in the process of being modernised and ratified.
The Federal Foreign Office’s Latin America and Caribbean initiative
The Federal Foreign Office’s Latin America and Caribbean Initiative, launched by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in
2019, serves to bolster cooperation between Germany and the region, in particular in the fields of business, science, climate policy and the rule of law. It also looks to the future to address crucial issues such as digitalisation and artificial intelligence. Foreign Minister Maas laid the foundation for this strategic cooperation during his trip to Latin America in April 2019 and the Latin America and Caribbean Conference at the Federal Foreign Office in May of the same year, which was attended by more than twenty Foreign Ministers as well as a large number of experts. Several further conferences have since been held – not least in order to counter growing nationalist tendencies worldwide with a broad multilateral alliance.
Foreign Minister hosted a follow‑up conference in June 2020 online due to the COVID‑19 pandemic. This event was attended by twenty‑six Foreign Ministers and the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, who discussed the scope for cooperation to contain the pandemic and its economic impact.
The meeting of European, Latin American and Caribbean Foreign Ministers in December 2020, during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, added a European dimension to the Latin America and Caribbean Initiative.