This year's meetings between the EU and Central America under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title of the Association Agreement included a joint meeting of the DAGs where the representatives of the EU and Central American Advisory Groups exchanged experience in their current operation and discussed proposals for capacity strengthening of the civil society monitoring mechanism, the role of the parties in this context and future cooperation. The joint meeting of the DAGs was followed by a workshop on Trade and Sustainable Development where the participants discussed the content of the chapter and looked for a common understanding of the chapter.
During the meeting, the EU Advisory Group presented its activities and communication tools, including the website, to the representatives of the Embassies of the Central American countries. It discussed progress in implementation of the Trade and Sustainable Development Title and proposals for follow-up actions to the joint meeting with Central American Advisory Groups held in May 2015. The Group discussed also with the Commission representatives preparation for the annual meeting with Central America planned for 2016. Moreover, the Commission representatives delivered a presentation about the EU programmes and projects for Central America, which are relevant for the Trade and Sustainable Development Title.
During the meeting, the representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS) presented information about the EU relations and cooperation with Central America. Based on the Second Annual Report, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the trade pillar of the Association Agreement, changes in trade flows and work of joint bodies established by the Agreement. The EU Advisory Group discussed also preparations for the next meeting with Central America under the Trade and Sustainable Development Title, as well as the ways to better communicate its activities to the Central American partners and other relevant stakeholders.
During the meeting, the Commission representative provided information about the implementation of the project on labour standards delivered in cooperation with the ILO in El Salvador and Guatemala. The Commission also informed about preparations for meetings with Central America planned for 15-17 June in Honduras, in particular meeting of the intergovernmental Board on Trade and Sustainable Development. The EU Advisory Group then discussed preparations for the civil society meetings with Central America, which this year will include a workshop on market access, a joint meeting of the Advisory Groups and an open Civil Society Dialogue Forum. In the afternoon, a video-conference with Central American partners took place to discuss preparations for joint meetings.
"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."