The new context for EU-CELAC strategic relations and the role of civil society (own-initiative opinion)

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EESRK nuomonė: The new context for EU-CELAC strategic relations and the role of civil society (own-initiative opinion)

Key points:

For many centuries, the Latin American and Caribbean region has shared Europe's principles and values, meaning that they have a common outlook on the world. Europe and its Member States are the main investor and most significant partner for cooperation with Latin American and Caribbean countries. Political, economic, social, cultural and historical ties have been forged over the centuries.

As the world faces new global challenges there is a need to strengthen this bloc and develop a new strategy that goes beyond traditional conventions and grand declarations and asserts itself as a strong and decisive voice on the international arena. In the new geopolitical context, the Latin American region is becoming a strategic priority of EU foreign policy.

The EESC encourages progress towards a comprehensive framework agreement between the European Union and CELAC, to include principles for action in terms of political dialogue, cooperation and sustainable development. This would form the basis for geopolitical action on a global scale and would strengthen the voice of our regions on the international stage.

The EESC calls on all political leaders in the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean to acknowledge and appreciate the value of civil society involvement. In this line, it is therefore important that:

  • structured dialogue with organised civil society – whose participation should be rooted in criteria governing the representativeness of organisations and balance between the various sectors represented – is made a formal part of all negotiations; in the specific case of negotiations relating to free trade agreements, there should be guarantees that organised civil society can effectively participate at every stage of the negotiations, as well as during implementation and when results are being evaluated;
  • necessary and sufficient material resources are arranged from the outset for all participatory mechanisms set out in the agreements so that they can fulfil their tasks;
  • transparency and formal and regular dialogue with the authorities is taken as the basis for trust in high-quality action by the stakeholders involved;
  • both follow-up and monitoring of signed agreements are combined into a single – institutionalised and adequately funded – structure, following the principle of "one agreement, one civil society body".