Giving focus to the Cultural, Scientific and Social Dimension of EU - CELAC relations


Public event: The UN Sustainable Development Goals: How do they frame social relations between the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)?

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The Public event organised by the EULAC-FOCUS team took place in Vienna, Austria on  Wednesday, June 6th 2018 and had very good attendance as well as four high profile panellists from varied backgrounds.

The Panellists were:

Adam Tyson, Head of Cooperation with North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission
Alan Cobley, Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of West Indies, Jamaica
Karin Fischer, Head of Department for Policy and Development Research, University Linz (JKU)
Moderation: Barbara Göbel, Director at Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Berlín

The panellists all emphasised that the SDGs are a very valuable framework for the relationship between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean to 2030. Adam Tyson phrased it more clearly by saying that the SDGs influence almost everything that the EU does. The SDGs are unique in committing developing and developed world likewise to achieving sustainable development in an integrated approach and by means of global partnership. The EULAC Focus project contributes by looking at a subset of this partnership, which allows developing targeted interventions in support of SDGs. The three panellists had different recommendations for topics that could be taken up by the EULAC Focus project.


Alan Cobley pointed out that the EU-LAC relationship is far from being secure and remains a relationship of unequal power. For the Caribbean he stressed the importance of resilience (as the region is severely threatened by natural disaster) and equality in connection to the SDGs. The Anglophone Caribbean has the lowest rate of enrolment in tertiary education in the hemisphere and the consequences are persistent inequalities and reproduction of elites as well as youth unemployment and crime. Education and pathways for young people through the education systems must therefore be a policy priority, also in terms of local capacity building for pushing targeted interventions linked to the SDGs.

Karin Fischer raised the topic of slavery and historical injustice, which is often consciously forgotten in debates about current socio-economic problems in former colonial States in LAC. Another topic for collaborative EU-LAC research is impacts of neoliberal reforms that strongly affected LAC in the 1980ies and has nowadays similar implications for the European periphery. Europe might learn a great deal from LAC by studying measures for reducing income inequalities, as LAC was the only region in the world which made a serious leap forward in the last decades related to this goal. Linking decent work, economic growth and ecological concerns is clearly another topic of immediate relevance in the bi-regional dialogue.  

Adam Tyson strongly recommended using the SDGs as a clear policy framework that helps EU researchers to cooperate with researchers from LAC. Countries that are on the forefront of scientific research must be convinced to the SDGs are also interesting for them. At the same time, projects like EULAC focus can contribute to provide evidence that research cooperation with LAC makes sense for the EU. The EU-LAC Common Research Area (CRA) has identified numerous topics that are of high interest for both regions (e.g. personalized medicine, neglected infectious diseases, urban mobility, earthquake forecasting, etc.). The SDGs demand that researchers come out of their thematic silos and join forces for paving the way for transformative action.


View the full video of the panel here.

Download the event brochure here.

The Cross-cutting Pathways of EU-CELAC Relations - Vienna meeting, 7 June 2018

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The Cross-cutting Pathways WP2 research work played an essential role at the start of the project in order to define in detail the cross-cutting issues that the thematic work package teams have to consider and address.

A Synthesis Report on Cross-cutting Pathways has been drafted, circulated and discussed between project members and external experts of the Trans-Sectorial Board already with the final version to be finished by February, 2019.

In the first 12 months of the project, the cross-cutting topics (mobility, inequality, diversity, and sustainability) were mainly addressed for the scientific dimension and, to a lesser extent, the social dimension. Work then focused on the cross-cutting topics regarding the cultural and the social dimension of EU-CELAC relations.

Through their research, the team identified that since 2007 (European Agenda for Culture in a Globalising World), the EU multilevel cultural cooperation strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean has been implemented in diverse frameworks of collaboration including strategic partnerships (with Brazil and Mexico) and economic partnership, trade and association agreements with sub-regions (Central America, Colombia/Peru/Ecuador) and sub-regional entities (CARIFORUM, MERCOSUR).

However, the vast majority of cultural cooperation approaches between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean is located outside the scope of birregional relations, in culture-related foreign policies of European countries or institutions of European origin, cooperation schemes between individual countries or activities of civil society actors.

Looking more specifically at the mobility cross-cutting issue in relation to the cultural dimension, the team has concluded that: Mobility is mainly addressed as “exchange”, “interaction” or “circulation” between both regions; for example as mobility of people (e.g. artists, brokers), items (e.g. goods, services), knowledge (e.g. expertise, techniques) and cultural practices;

As for the inequality cross-cutting issue in relation to the cultural dimension, the team has identified that: culture is envisioned as an important dimension to reduce social exclusion and to promote social cohesion and inclusion in the political dialogue, but there are few references to inequality within the cultural dimension and no agreements or binding documents which address inequality within the cultural dimension.

Considering the diversity cross-cutting issue in relation to the cultural dimension, the team has concluded that: diversity is a central concept within the cultural dimension of  bi-regional relations; it is addressed as a key feature of cooperation in the field of cultural industries with broad support by EU and LAC countries. However since 2005 there has been shrinking attention on “diversity” in connection with “culture” in the scope of bi-regional summits but growing attention in the context of bilateral and sub-regional agreements.

As for the sustainability cross-cutting issue in relation to the cultural dimension, the team has found that: Sustainability in the cultural dimension is a rather a subordinated topic mainly related to “development” with loose or indirect connections to ”culture” in the political dialogue. It is limited for example to preserving "cultural heritage", fostering "cultural industries" or promoting "cultural diversity".



Towards a Common Vision of EU-CELAC Relations - Vienna meeting, 7 June 2018

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The main objectives of the work on establishing a common vision is to give a coherent orientation to research in the thematic research, establish priorities and overall coherence to the set of recommendations from the project as a whole and  define a clear strategic narrative for the renovation of the EU- CELAC relation that transcends the thematic & institutional limitations of the current negotiations and dialogue.

The first task of the team was to analyze the legal, political and institutional setting of EU-CELAC relations & create the adequate background for the prioritization of thematic  outcomes and their respective policy recommendations.

This has so far made it possible to build a vision common to the whole project for all to follow. Preliminary conclusions are that:

  • there are different regional experiences
  • CELAC as particular political process promoted by states, lacks the legal status and the organizational structure to be, in many areas, an effective “actor” of bi-regional relations. 
  • there is a declining interest in the relation between EU and LAC
  • there are two EU frameworks for the CELAC region: Latin America/Caribbean, which makes it difficult to have a consistent approach towards CELAC

  • bi-regional dialogue only takes place at governmental level with lLow participation of civil society

  • the EU & CELAC Joint agenda is on two different levels: bi-regional and global but in order to achieve  concrete results within the Summits framework, the Action Plan Chapters need more interrelation and redefinition for coherence throughout the 3 dimensions

  • the evolution of cooperation depends on material and institutional structures, 

  • the link between EEAS & DG DEVCO. development cooperation within the framework of EEAS should give wider spectrum for cooperation with LAC

  • the agenda for Change leads to different kinds of development partnerships and new aid allocation criteria

  • the European development policy faces changes

The second task focuses on the development of 4 scenarios (common vision) of renewed social, scientific and cultural relations, going from scenario methodology to scenario definition to scenario validation.

The team produced methodological guidelines for implementing a scenario building process leading the consortium and stakeholders into identifying 4 scenarios to be considered more in details with regards to the 3 dimensions. These scenarios will then be further assessed and refined with the help of contacts withing well established EU-CELAC bodies and events (e.g. SOM, summits, scientific and technology conferences, etc ) concluding into a validation workshop and action plan.

The third task aims at identifying and elaborating “hot topics” of promising fields of action for the renewal of the cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU CELAC relations.

These are areas where the CELAC-EU space could be developed further, bringing together experts on a particular topic to discuss how to propose and insert a specific line of work in bi-regional cooperation and propose concrete activities.

  • The First Hot Topic Web Conference on Research Infrastructure was organized on June 13th 2017. The participants shared their views on regional integration of research infrastructures. Two questions were addressed: How to find a common language to start a dialogue?/ How to develop a harmonized and aligned regional approach to research infrastructure policies?
  • The Second Hot Topic Web Conference on "Towards an Open Science and Open Access scientific EULAC relations" was organized on April 18th 2018 to discuss the potentialities and limitations of Open Access and Open Science in scientific production as a strategy to achieve the development of equitable, cooperative knowledge and quality.

Further hot topic web conferences will be organised and advertised on our news page and social media accounts.

The fourth task will focus on formulating of an Action Plan for bi-regional joint actions taking into account the scenarios. 

The Action Plan will be presented and discussed in the Project final event and will need to integrate coherently the three dimensions (cultural, scientific and social) , and, in particular:

  • Design actions that are transversal to the three dimensions
  • and that overcome the division in different DGs of the European Commission, being thus able to integrate policies that affect EULAC Focus three dimensions


The Cultural Dimension of EU-CELAC Relations - Vienna meeting, 7 June 2018

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Work for the EULAC-FOCUS research into the cultural dimension of EU-CELAC relations aims at proposing ambitious and affordable cultural relations strategies and actions between the EU and CELAC. The Vienna meeting that took place in June 2018 was the opportunity for the WP3 - Cultural Dimension team to present what they have accomplished so far and what their next aims and objectives will be.

The main objectives of the research carried out by the cultural dimension team is:

  • To analyze the past and current bi-regional cultural relations by building a repository of key documents affecting this relationship.
  • To identify key instruments used to support cultural relations policies between the EU and other world regions in order to formulate recommendations focus on the EU-CELAC relationship.
  • To propose high impact action to develop an ambitious and affordable cultural relations strategy between EU and CELAC.
  • To diffuse the research done among the main stakeholders.

This is done via a number of exercises including an online document repository, a Delphi and SWOT exercises, a workshop that took place in Buenos Aires in November 2017 (more info), a meeting with ministers of culture at the XIX Conference of Ibero-American Ministers of Culture and a number of e-workshops. The research will culminate into 3 main deliverables: the online repository of analytical documents, a High impact actions document and an open source publication on pathways to renewed bi-regional cultural relations.

The recent Conference of Ibero-American Ministers of Culture that took place between 3rd and 4th May 2018 was the opportunity for the team to present the project at the level of ministers of culture and obtain contributions and feed-back from the ministries. Actions and results from this key event included:

  • The Ministers received before the Conference a Synthesis document on EULAC Focus
  • Presentation of the Aims and future recommendations of the Project EULAC Focus to the Minister’s plenary
  • EULAC Focus appears in the final declaration of the conference
  • Survey sent to the Ministries (final results expected in August 2018)

Additional information can be found on and 


The Social Dimension of EU-CELAC Relations - Vienna meeting, 7 June 2018

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The analysis of the social dimension of EU-CELAC relations (WP5) is divided into three different tasks, which represent three different levels of EU-LAC social relations. The Vienna meeting that took place in June 2018 was the opportunity for the –“Social Dimension Team” to present what they have accomplished so far and what their next aims and objectives will be.

The first task was dedicated to assessing the current state-of-the-art of social relations between the EU and LAC. This specific type of relations is on the one hand poorly developed and on the other hand very senstitive to socio-political developments on the national level.

As a consequence, the first report of WP5, which is now available on the project website (download here) describes and compares the main characteristics and challenges of the social dimension in the EU and LAC.

The second task focuses on patterns of social welfare system reforms, in particular on the identification of topics where collaboration already took place or where it could be important. For this task, the team has been looking at:

  • The impact of cooperation programs (Eurosocial II, Sociauxand, the Caribbean NIPs) on EU-LAC cooperation on social inclusion policies. Research is based on interviews with key informants of the programs as well as case studies.

  • Perceptions of LAC social inclusion and social policy reforms by EU experts, institutions and governmental decision-makers . Research is based on interviews with EU experts that participated in the activities promoted by Eurosocial II and Socieux and members of the Social Protection Committee.

  • Is social investment a leading social policy concept in LAC? The research is based on assessing legislation on welfare system reforms in 5 LAC countries (Uruguay, Peru, Chile, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica).

The third task looks at specific policies for (a) social inclusion and (b) territorial cohesion in both regions in order to identify especially inspiring cases which can be taken up in the bi-regional dialogue. In the case of :

  • policies for social inclusion we focus on policies directed towards two specific vulnerable groups: poor people and migrants
  • promotion for territorial cohesion we argue that this Euro-centristic concept took a different trajectory in LAC and we analyse the implications by studying specific cases, programs and projects.

Exciting new reports of WP5 will be coming up in the winter term.

The Scientific Dimension of EU-CELAC Relations - Vienna meeting, 7 June 2018

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Work for the EULAC-FOCUS research into the scientific dimension of EU-CELAC relations is divided into 4 tasks and additional sub-tasks. The Vienna meeting that took place in June 2018 was the opportunity for the WP4 - Scientific Dimension team to present what they have accomplished so far and what their next aims and objectives will be.

The scientific dimension team first conducted the stocktaking and analysis of outcomes of projects supporting the EU-CELAC process. This task is now 80% complete and the main findings so far are that:

  • There are great asymmetries when it comes to political, economic and social conditions, both between EU and LAC and within LAC, which hinders the STI collaboration. This results in a collaboration that is bi-regional, but does not affect equally the entire region.
  • There has been a change in the approach of the EC, from projects targeting specific countries/sub-regions, to projects for the entire  LAC region, especially after the establishment of CELAC.
  • CELAC was expected to be a counterpart to the EU in the bi-regional collaboration, however it works as a forum for discussion and lacks institutional instruments, meaning that it is not able to enforce the decisions made.

The team then looked at the stocktaking and the analysis of scientific publications on bi-regional collaboration, which is now 90% complete. The Analysis has confirmed that:

  • Open Access in LAC countries have strongly intensified in the last decade thanks to the scientific and economic regional policies.
  • LAC region has increased the number of Open Access registers rate in the last decade compared with the rest of the world.
  • Peru is the second country with the highest growth in Open Access publications (after Colombia).
  • Identifying specific networks of countries may focus the attention on smaller countries and the way its partnership is given.
  • Andean and Caribbean countries have increased the number of successful collaborative works in the last decade compared with the rest of scientific international networks.

Research then focussed on mobility and is now 100% complete. Its aim was to identify key actors, instruments and stakeholders of bi-regional mobility, potentials for upscaling bi-regional mobility and creating synergies in international cooperation. 

Research in mobility concluded that possibilities and requirements for participation in these programmes are still not well known in some parts of the LAC scientific community, whereas the team recommended:

  • To promote mobility and support the NCP network
  • Alignment and coherence
  • Focus on joint and LAC funding
  • An EULAC University Association

Work looking at the effect of the digital transformation is 70% complete and has delivered 2 papers and a statistical report and work looking at research infrastructures is 90% complete delivered in a report summarizing the outcomes of two surveys and the information and data presented by the countries representatives in Montevideo.


Meetings & Events

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Participation of EULAC-FOCUS team member in the following events in the past or the near future:

For more information please visit 

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EULAC FOCUS PROJECT - WEBINAR “Diplomacy of Innovation and Science Diplomacy: A Vision for EULAC” more

“Opportunities for Cooperation between Latin America and Europe” Info Day Report more

Science Diplomacy Workshop more


Conferencia Final de EULAC-Focus more

EULAC-FOCUS Final Conference more


Analysis of EU-CELAC Collaboration in Science, Technology and Innovation more

Mapping and Analysis of Academic Networks and Mobility Schemes between the EU and LAC more

Literature repository on EU-CELAC cultural relations more