The future of EU-LAC relations

1. Aug. 2019

ZSI participated at the international CEISAL conference in Bucharest, Rumania, 29-31.07.2019.

In the framework of the EULAC-Focus project – Giving focus to the cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU-(CE)LAC relations – ZSI was responsible for steering and coordinating the research on the social dimension. Some of the results of this working area were now presented at the 9th CEISAL (Congreso Internacional del Consejo Europeo de Investigaciones Sociales de América Latina) Congress in Bucharest, Romania. More than 200 scholars from all over Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean came together to discuss the current state of the art of the relations as well as upcoming challenges and opportunities.

The social dimension of EU-LAC relations

Focusing on the reports produced in the EULAC Focus project, the aim of the contributions made by Wolfgang Haider at the conference were to identify areas of common interest in EU-LAC collaboration and to define specific proposals and recommendations in order to strengthen the social dimension of these relations through dialogue and common initiatives. In order to do so, the following questions had to be answered first and were discussed with the participants at the congress:

  • What is the legal and institutional background that provides the ground for bi-regional EU-LAC relations?
  • What have been the priority issues in EU-LAC cooperation so far from a social perspective?
  • Which further issues are of common interest to both regions and how could these issues be strengthened in the bi-regional dialogue and on a multilateral global level?

Furthermore, to understand the outcomes and the content of bi-regional relations, the different levels of EU-LAC cooperation need to be scrutinised regarding their capability to create norms and binding obligations for the parties involved. For this reason, the presentation focused at the regional institutional and legal dynamics that shape the different aspects of the relations.

Strengthening EU-LAC relations in the social area

The discussion of these issues at the conference was very fruitful and confirmed the research findings of the EULAC-Focus project. For example, one of the conclusions presented is that the growing importance of soft law in the EU context (see e.g. Open Method of Coordination) is connectable to the commitments of e.g. the CELAC community and could be used to foster the social dimension of EU-LAC relations. Besides concrete social policies and cooperation in this area, the discussion at the conference also focused on the role of trade agreements in bi-regional relations, especially with the recently agreed (but still to be signed) EU-Mercosur treaty in mind. Inputs received at the conference regarding these topics will help the EULAC-Focus project to further refine its Action Plan for strengthening EU-LAC relations, which will be presented at a final event in Brussels in November (exact date tbc).

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Tags: international cooperation, Latin America, social cohesion, social inclusion, social policy