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


Synthesis Report on Cross-Cutting Topics - Mobility, Inequality, Diversity and Sustainability in the EU-CELAC relations

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Synthesis Report on Cross-Cutting Topics - Mobility, Inequality, Diversity and Sustainability in the EU-CELAC relations.

This Synthesis Report analyses four cross-cutting topics – mobility, inequality, diversity and sustainability – in the EU-CELAC scientific, social and cultural relations. The aim of the report is to identify similarities and differences between EU and LAC in these fields and topics, and propose lessons learned on trans-sectorial exchange and analysis, taking into account the period from 1999 to 2018.

The four cross-cutting topics address significant aspects of EU-LAC relations. They are pertinent to all three dimensions of bi-regional relations considered in the project. They also play an important role within the UN framework and they are adequate to analyse the multidimensionality of the “new paradigm” on Development that has been developing during the implementation of the project. Overall findings include:

  • The EU considers that Latin America is a key partner when it comes to facing current global challenges. However, this is often conceived as a request to support the EU’s own ideas to address and solve global problems. The EU’s willingness to learn seriously from Latin America and to support proposals developed in the region is rather limited.
  • The crisis in the euro zone has massively changed the external perception of the European integration process. Furthermore, the way in which the EU and many of its member countries treated refugees, the lack of solidarity responses from many European countries and the xenophobic outbursts fuelled by speeches by the extreme right-wing have seriously damaged the prestige of the EU as a “normative power”.
  • A central element of bi-regional relations between the EU and CELAC is that both regions have developed different levels of agency. The EU has a recognized agency. Although the 33 independent countries of LAC are represented in CELAC, it is not an organization with its own competences. This lack of agency on the part of LAC has encouraged the EU to develop the bi-regional agenda at three different levels: first with LAC as a region; second with sub-regions; and third with individual countries.
  • A major institutional asymmetry in the EU-LAC relationship is the fact that beyond the political dialogue, a large part of bi-regional relations is implemented through instruments to fund common programmes and activities which stem almost exclusively from the EU.
  • A particular challenge for bi-regional relations between the EU and CELAC is to strengthen the participation of the Caribbean countries in bi-regional structures and processes.
  • Despite the increasing visibility of culture at multilateral levels, the cultural dimension of EU-CELAC bi-regional relations is less pronounced than the scientific and social dimensions. Within the bi-regional framework of EU-CELAC relations, the cultural dimension remains exclusively at the level of political dialogue.
  • Both EU and CELAC attribute central importance to the scientific dimension within the respective processes of regional integration and share the aspiration to cooperate in the scientific area at international scale. One of the major challenges for bi-regional mobility in the scientific dimension is to reduce structural inequalities between EU-CELAC and within the regions, achieve a more balanced relation between brain gain and brain drain, in the sense of a more symmetric knowledge circulation and a less disparate spatial and temporal pattern of mobility.
  • In the scientific dimension of bi-regional relations, inequality is framed on several levels related to the opportunities regarding participation in international, bi-regional collaboration. These include disparities among regions, countries, and regions within countries as well as disparities between institutions and language skills.
  • With regard to bi-regional cooperation in research for innovation and competitiveness, it seems necessary to consider that Universalist models of innovation face a crisis of both technical reproducibility and social support. The geography of innovation is completely unequal.
  • Creating the framework for labour migration is one of the most important aspects in addressing the issue of migration at the bi-regional level.
    The assessment of bi-regional efforts to combat drug trafficking and the associated crime and social problems depends on what standards are set. On the positive side, the long-term dialogue has strengthened mutual trust. However, despite all cooperation, it has not been possible to significantly reduce the production, trade and consumption of drugs and related crime.
  • In the social dimension of bi-regional relations, the inequalities addressed include economic inequality, gender- and ethnic-based inequality, and the challenge of social cohesion. As they apply to Latin America and the Caribbean as a deeply unequal region, these inequalities have had a profound impact on bi-regional relations between LAC and EU.
  • Sustainability and sustainable development are significant issues of political agreement in the bi-regional relationship between the EU and (CE)LAC. A common vision exists in the area of climate change mitigation and adaptation. It remains a challenge to dissociate the social dimension of bi-regional relations from a classic North-South development agenda in which partner countries are expected to improve one-sidedly even as the EU is deeply implicated in Climate Change as a major producer of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Cooperation should give more attention to areas such as the use of indigenous and traditional knowledge as well as the “use of nature-based solutions”. This would be a counterweight to the already much stronger role of various actors in the business sector whose participation is encouraged through Corporate Social Responsibility.

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