Latin America and the Caribbean
The EESC has been working with Latin American and Caribbean counterpart organisations since the 1990s. Several EESC's opinions have focused on relations with this region, at regional, sub-regional and national level. The EESC's priorities include the development of civil society organisations, economic and social development, regional integration and cooperation in the multilateral sphere.
At a regional level, the EESC organises biennial meetings between civil society organisation representatives in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, as one of the preparatory events prior to the EU-CELAC Summit.
At sub-regional and national level, several permanent structures have been set up: In 2009, the EESC set up a civil society Round Table with the Brazilian Economic and Social Council to provide a forum for dialogue and continuous cooperation between representatives of Brazilian and European civil society. The EU-Chile Association Agreement gave the Committee a mandate to establish a Joint Consultative Committee with its Chilean civil society counterpart in order to monitor the agreement, which was finally set up in 2016. As regards the Andean Community countries, the EESC takes part in the Domestic Advisory Group monitoring the EU-Colombia/Peru/Ecuador free trade agreement. It also participates in the CARIFORUM-EU Consultative Committee that monitors the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement. Permanent relations have been established with the EESC's institutional counterparts in Mercosur (the Economic and Social Consultative Forum) and Central America (the Consultative Committee of the Central American Integration System).
The EESC’s activities in Latin America takes place in the framework of European Union (EU) policy on the region and, more specifically, through the strategic partnership between the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), negotiations on association agreements with Central America, Mexico, Chile and Mercosur, the free trade agreement with Peru and Colombia and the EU-Brazil strategic partnership.
"I am also here as a spokesperson for Latin American civil society organisations, who have given me the honourable task of bringing our joint recommendations - civil society recommendations - to our heads of state or government. We produced these recommendations at the 7th EU-Latin America meeting of organised civil society that we held here, in Santiago, in December last year.
We are convinced of the importance for civil society to be at the centre of EULatin America relations. Participation is crucial in order to secure more transparent relations and increased ownership of political and trade exchanges, and also to ensure the more efficient implementation of policies."
Civil society must be at the centre of the EU-Latin America relations. Participation of civil society is crucial in order to have more transparent relations and an increased ownership of political and trade exchanges, and also to have a more efficient implementation of policies. This can be better achieved through the existence of consultative bodies, which is why the EESC has always worked on the creation and strengthening of Latin American consultative institutions.
The purpose of today's meeting is two-fold.
We thought it would be good if we, representatives from European organised civil society, would meet to exchange information about planned activities in Rio and to see how we could further foster our common values and positions throughout these diverse activities.
The second reason for today's meeting turns out to be very timely. Originally we had invited Timo Makela, Director of DG Environment, to give us a de-briefing on ongoing Rio negotiations in New York.
Staffan Nilsson's Opening Speech at the EU Brazil Round Table Brasilia