Belize is part of Latin America

Latin America and the Caribbean

The EU's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean are complex and cultivated at different levels. The EU interacts with the entire region through summit meetings of heads of state and government and is also linked through agreements and political dialogue with the Caribbean, Central America, the Andean Community, Mercosur and individual countries.

Legal basis

  • Title V (EU external action) of the Treaty on European Union;
  • Titles I-III and V (common commercial policy; development cooperation and humanitarian aid; international agreements) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Relations between regions

A. The summits

At the first summit between the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 1999, a “Biregional Strategic Partnership” was established. The last of the biennial summits, held in Brussels in June 2015, was the second summit between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños, CELAC). The summits strengthen ties between the two regions at the highest level and are a forum for discussing issues of bi-regional and international interest. Debates focus on issues such as democracy and human rights, poverty reduction, promoting social cohesion, innovation and technology, and the environment and climate change. The Brussels Summit adopted a short political declaration, a longer declaration on the different aspects of the partnership and an EU-CELAC “action plan” based on the priorities set at the last summit. The plan defines ten priority areas for bi-regional cooperation:

  • Science, research, innovation and technology;
  • sustainable development and the environment, climate change, biodiversity and energy;
  • regional integration and interconnectivity to promote social inclusion and cohesion;
  • Migration;
  • Education and employment to promote social inclusion and cohesion;
  • the global drug problem;
  • gender issues;
  • Investing and Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development;
  • Higher education;
  • Citizen security.

After the postponement of the EU-CELAC summit originally planned for October 2017 in El Salvador, the foreign ministers of both regions finally met in Brussels on July 16 and 17, 2018. They adopted a declaration focusing on strengthening bi-regional cooperation in international fora.

B. The parliamentary dimension

Regular contacts between the European Parliament and the Latin American parliamentarians began in 1974 with the first of 17 interparliamentary conferences. This was the first - and for many years the only - forum for an institutionalized political dialogue between Europe and Latin America. In 2006, the inter-parliamentary conferences were replaced by the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (“EuroLat”), the parliamentary institution of the Biregional Strategic Partnership. EuroLat is a forum for the debate, monitoring and examination of all questions related to the partnership. It is composed of 150 members: 75 members of the European Parliament and 75 members of the Latin American subregional parliaments, including the Parlatino (Latin American Parliament), Parlandino (Andean Parliament), Parlacen (Central American Parliament), Parlasur (Parliament of Mercosur) and of the Congresses of Chile and Mexico. Since 2006, EuroLat has held twelve ordinary plenary sessions, the most recent in December 2019 in Panama.

Relations with the sub-regions

A. Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama)

Relations with the Central American countries developed on the basis of the “San José Dialogue”. The dialogue was launched in 1984 and has since expanded to include topics such as economic and social development, migration and security. The first two cooperation agreements in 1985 and 1993 were followed by the signing of a political dialogue and cooperation agreement in 2003, which introduced several new areas of cooperation. An association agreement, the first interregional agreement of its kind concluded by the EU, was signed in June 2012 and ratified by the European Parliament in December 2012. The agreement sets the goal of developing a privileged political partnership based on values, principles and common goals to strengthen human rights, reduce poverty, fight inequality, prevent conflict and good governance, security, regional Promote integration and sustainable development. The Association Agreement will also liberalize trade in manufactured goods and fishery products and remove most tariffs on trade in agricultural products. The chapter of the trade agreement entered into force provisionally during 2013 (at different times for the individual countries). An Association Parliamentary Committee, composed of MEPs and members of the Parlacen and the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica, will oversee the implementation of the agreement.

B. Andean Community (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru)

Since the establishment of the Andean Group (later renamed the Andean Community) in 1969, the EU has maintained regular relations with the Andean countries. The first cooperation agreement was signed in 1983, followed by an expanded framework agreement on cooperation in 1993. In December 2003, the two regions signed an agreement on political dialogue and cooperation, which broadened the areas of cooperation, but not yet in Power has come. Negotiations for an association agreement began in June 2007 and finally resulted in a multilateral trade agreement with Peru and Colombia in March 2010. The trade agreement, which was signed in June 2012 and ratified by the European Parliament in December 2012, entered into force with Peru on March 1, 2013 and with Colombia on August 1, 2013. The agreement provides for full liberalization of trade in industrial and fishery products over a period of ten years (most tariffs will be abolished when it enters into force) and for easier market access for agricultural products. The agreement covers the award of public contracts, investments, human rights as well as labor and environmental protection standards. Ecuador joined the trade agreement on January 1, 2017.

C. Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay)

The EU and the Common Market of the South (Mercado Común del Sur, Mercosur), founded in 1991, have had institutional relations since 1992. In 1995, an interregional framework agreement was signed which established a regular political dialogue and established objectives and modalities for trade and economic cooperation.

Negotiations began in 1999 for an Association Agreement, which includes political dialogue, cooperation and free trade. After 20 years of negotiations (with the exception of their suspension from 2004 to 2010), the EU and Mercosur reached a political agreement in June 2019 on the trade chapter of the Association Agreement and in June 2020 on the last remaining questions in the chapters on policy and cooperation. With the entry into force of the agreement, tariffs on 91% of goods exported from the EU to Mercosur will be abolished and tariffs on a range of different products will be reduced. The EU will again abolish tariffs on 92% of goods imported from Mercosur, but leave tariff quotas on sensitive agricultural products. After the text of the agreement has undergone legal scrutiny, it will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Member States for ratification.

D. Caribbean

Historically, the EU has had close ties with the Caribbean. This is mainly due to the presence of European countries in the region during the colonial period; many are still present there through overseas countries and territories (OCT). Relations between the EU and the Caribbean are shaped by different, overlapping institutional frameworks. The most important are the Cotonou Agreement, signed in 2000 with 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA ). The key partner for the bi-regional dialogue with the EU is the Cariforum. Of the organization's 16 members, 14 are - Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago - members of the Caribbean Community (Caricom). Other members are the Dominican Republic (signatory to the Cotonou Agreement and the EPA) and Cuba (with special status).

Since November 2012, relations between the EU and the Caribbean have been regulated by the Joint EU-Caribbean Partnership Strategy (JECS), which creates a structured framework for dialogue and cooperation in an expanded and deepened form. Five priority areas are identified in the strategy: regional cooperation and integration; Rebuilding Haiti; Climate change and natural disasters; Crime and security; Joint action in bi-regional and multilateral bodies as well as on global issues.

Inter-parliamentary relations are an important part of the links between the EU and the Caribbean. In addition to the planned regional meetings and the enlarged ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the 2008 EPA set up a Cariforum-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee to oversee the implementation of the agreement. The committee met three times, the last time on October 31 and November 1, 2017 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Relations with the individual states

A. Mexico

Mexico and the EU have had diplomatic relations since 1960. After a cooperation agreement from 1975 and a more comprehensive framework agreement on cooperation from 1991, Mexico signed the first partnership agreement between a Latin American country and the EU in 1997. The “Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement” (“Global Agreement”) institutionalized political dialogue, broadened cooperation to various areas, including democracy and human rights, and established an EU-Mexico free trade area. Negotiations with Mexico on a revision of the “Global Agreement” began in May 2016, and in April 2018 a “general agreement” was reached on the trade chapters of an updated agreement. In April 2020, the parties reached an agreement on the last remaining items.

The strategic partnership established in 2009 further strengthened relations with Mexico - it is the only country with which the EU has both an association agreement and a strategic partnership. The partnership, which expresses the EU's recognition of the country's growing international political and economic weight, has two objectives: improving multilateral cooperation and coordination between the EU and Mexico on global issues and bilateral relations and initiatives to give additional political impetus. Three EU-Mexico summits were held under the strategic partnership, the last one in June 2015. The EU and Mexico have regular high-level dialogue on a wide range of issues, including human rights, security and law enforcement, economic issues, the environment and climate change. The EU-Mexico Joint Parliamentary Committee has been monitoring the implementation of the global agreement since 2005.

B. Chile

The first framework cooperation agreement with Chile was signed in 1990 after democracy was restored in the country. Regular political dialogue was established in 1995. After a more comprehensive framework agreement on cooperation was signed in 1996, an Association Agreement between the EU and Chile was concluded in 2002. The agreement is divided into three sections: a chapter on political dialogue, including the participation of civil society, the European Parliament and the Chilean Congress; a chapter on cooperation, which sets out different areas of cooperation to promote sustainable economic, social and environmental development; and the establishment of a free trade area for goods and services. Negotiations to update the Association Agreement started in November 2017.

The EU-Chile Joint Parliamentary Committee has been monitoring the implementation of the Association Agreement since 2003.

C. Brazil

In 1960, Brazil was the first South American country to recognize the European Economic Community (EEC) and to set up a permanent representation in Brussels. Several cooperation agreements were signed in the years that followed. With the consolidation of democracy in Brazil, there was a qualitative leap in bilateral relations, and in 1992 an expanded framework agreement on cooperation was signed. Relations with Brazil have grown steadily since then and reflect the country's growing economic and political weight in the world. In 2007 the EU and Brazil established a strategic partnership. Seven EU-Brazil summits have been held since 2007, the most recent in February 2014. The EU and Brazil continue their cooperation and political dialogue in more than 30 areas of mutual interest, including international peace and security, human rights, public governance Sector, economic and financial issues, innovation and competitiveness, social policy, education, environment and regional integration. The strategic partnership between the EU and Brazil also includes a regular dialogue between the Brazilian National Congress and the European Parliament.

D. Cuba

Until a few years ago, Cuba was the only country in the region that had not signed a cooperation or association agreement with the EU. However, negotiations for a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, which started in April 2014, were successfully concluded in March 2016. The agreement was signed on December 12, 2016 and ratified by the European Parliament on July 5, 2017. It can come into force as soon as it has been ratified by all EU member states. The agreement consists of three main chapters: one on political dialogue, one on cooperation and sector dialogue and one on trade. Relations between the EU and Cuba have also been strengthened in other ways, including various high-level visits and the resumption of formal political dialogue.

Jesper Tvevad