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Redefining the EU-Latin America Relationship

The European Union recently announced an investment of €45 billion in Latin America and the Caribbean through its Global Gateway program. But for an EU-LAC alliance to succeed, it will need to function as a two-way street and deliver an ambitious and inclusive investment agenda.

PANAMA – In July, eight years since their last gathering, heads of state and government from the European Union and from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) met in Brussels. The summit ended on a promising note: through its Global Gateway program, the European Union will invest €45 billion ($49.5 billion) by 2027 to support a fair green transition, an inclusive digital transformation, and human-development outcomes in LAC.

As Jean Monnet, the architect of European unity, reportedly observed, all people are ambitious, but they are ambitious either “to be” or “to do.” In today’s “polycrisis” world, action matters more than pageantry. Ordinary citizens expect concrete results from multilateral commitments, and it is time to deliver.

To this end, the EU-LAC relationship must be redefined. The recent period of piecemeal engagement, with a focus on only some issues or on relations between certain countries, has led to significant gaps in trade and sustainable development. Both sides would benefit from a more expansive agenda linking the regions as a whole, rather than agreements between small blocs of countries aligning on environmental, commercial, and investment matters.