Summary of the CELAC – EU summit
Considering the recent rise and success of Latin American economies, the recent CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States)-EU summit was presented as an opportunity for Latin American and Caribbean nations to finally commence serious discussions and negotiation on trade and economic integration with the EU. However, the summit ended up serving as another a platform for Latin American and Caribbean nations to showcase their internal divisions and displays of political symbolism. Eu officials were no doubt discouraged by the showing as Karel De Gucht, the EU’s trade commissioner, stated that talks on the core item of business (stagnant trade talks between the EU and Mercosur which started in the 1990’s) had still not commenced, “But on the core issue of access to each other’s markets we have still not gotten down to business”. Both Argentina and Brazil claimed that they would engage in the talks, yet Argentina’s president, Christina Fernandez, tweeted that she would not agree to trade liberalizing deals that risked putting Argentinian companies in what she deemed “unfair” competition with Europe. Ms Fernandez was even reported as having told Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff that she wanted to resign from Mercosur’s* position of negotiation. It seems as though in spite of trade development between the EU and CELAC, these summits remain a stage for decades old political wars. The EU on one side pushing policies of trade liberalization and democratization, while some CELAC nations view them as old-colonial masters under a new mask, forcing the wrath of the global capitalist economy on them in hopes of homogeneity. On the other side are CELAC nations pushing for equal trade and increased economic sovereignty, viewed by some in the EU as radical political agents looking to destabilize current global systems and trends. Take for example a quote by Mr De Gutch, “We only have to look at the facts, the most open economies in the region are the ones that have had the most success.” In contrast the new head of CELAC Raul Castro, the reigning Cuban dictator, apparently did not converse or engage with Angela Merkel of Germany past a handshake. Perhaps this is why Europe’s more important leaders did not travel to the summit with the exception of Mrs Merkel and Spain’s Mariano Rajoy.
*Mercosur is an economic and political agreement among Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Bolivia