EU relations with Latin America, Asia and the ACP countries (Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific) have strengthened over the years. They cover various fields such as political dialogue, trade, development cooperation and research.
Representing organised civil society in the European Union, we are actively involved – through our Section for External Relations (REX) – in fostering economic, political and social links with these three regions.
Since the 2000 Cotonou Agreement, the relationship between the EU and the ACP has been one of the most advanced examples of international cooperation. It covers a huge range of subjects, from human rights to trade and climate change, involving not only decision-makers but also civil society.
The EESC has a long-standing commitment to strengthen ACP-EU relations, consolidated by the Cotonou Agreement. We support dialogue and draw up joint recommendations on issues like regional integration, sustainable development, combatting poverty, economic partnership agreements and gender equality.
The links between the EESC and Asian civil society organisations are mainly bilateral. We maintain structured relations with Chinese civil society through the EU-China round table. The round table meets twice a year to discuss common economic and social issues. Representatives from the Economic and Social Committee and China’s Economic and Social Council draw up reports and exchange ideas with the view to integrating the contribution made by civil society in developing EU-China relations on key issues, such as trade, sustainable development and human rights.
We are also encouraging closer links with civil society in Japan. These relations focus on the role of civil society in the EU-Japan free trade agreement and on its short- and long-term consequences.
As for India, we maintain regular contact with the social partners and NGOs on topics of major concern, such as working conditions, human rights and trade. Likewise, we are also following the negotiations on the free trade agreement with India.
Our Follow-up Committee on International Trade is paying particular attention to negotiations on international trade agreements with other ASEAN countries and the involvement of civil society in these negotiations.
Approved in Rio in 1992, the EU-Latin America partnership covers themes such as democracy, human rights, sustainable development, enhanced regional integration, social cohesion and economic liberalisation.
The EESC is active at national, regional and continent-wide levels. Our main civil society partners are from Mercosur, the Andean Community, Central America, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and the Caribbean.
The EU-Brazil round table is the forum for dialogue and permanent cooperation with representatives from Brazilian civil society. It comprises members of Brazil’s Council for Economic and Social Development and EESC members.
As regards the free trade agreement between the EU and Colombia and Peru, as well as the Association Agreement with Central America, our objective is to set up mechanisms which are both functional and inclusive, and through which civil society can monitor these agreements.
The possibility of renegotiating agreements with Mexico and Chile has strengthened our dialogue with civil society in these two countries.