Pivot to Europe? Shared Challenges and Avenues of Cooperation between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean
On July 7, 2015, The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in partnership with the OCP Policy Center hosted a roundtable discussion on the changing relationship between Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
This meeting, held under the Chatham House rule, featured Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho from the Embassy of Mexico and Mission to the European Union; Ambassador Len Ishmael from the Embassies of the Eastern Caribbean States and Missions to the European Union; and Hugo Sobral, principal advisor at the Americas department in the European External Action Service.
The speakers addressed recent changes in Latin American and the Caribbean, and their implications for relations with the European Union and the United States. Specifically, the speakers focused on how these changes stood to affect relations both within the Latin American region as well as internationally. Latin America and the Caribbean, are often conflated as a single entity when in reality, the region represents a variety of different social, economic, and political systems with different objectives domestically and internationally. Such a reality must be taken into account when creating and analyzing bilateral and regional agreements whether from a U.S. or European perspective.
The panelists also highlighted the main areas of possible cooperation over shared concerns such as growth, education, security, energy and climate change, and trade. Discussion on trade focused both within the region and with the European Union and the United States. As countries in Latin America and the Caribbean shift their stances on internal and external markets and recalibrate their focus on trade agreements with neighbors the United States, and Europe, the effects could manifest widely in the region and even in countries not directly involved. Such effects must be kept in mind in light of recent talks regarding trade both within and outside of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The panel also addressed the issue of trafficking and global operations aiming at combating the practice. Trafficking, primarily the trafficking of narcotics and weapons, is not a one-way issue. Any responses to trafficking must include exporters, importers, and countries through which drugs are trafficked. Therefore, it is necessary to have a broader approach to addressing this issue.
The conversation ended with the recognition that there is not necessarily a pivot occurring from Latin America and Caribbean to the EU but rather a reexamination and renewal of relations both internally and with Europe and the United States.