The EU and the countries of Latin America share many values and interests: Latin America is one of the world’s most strongly democratic regions. We work side by side with many of these countries to strengthen the international order, including fair and rules-based trade. Enhancing the EU’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean is a stated goal of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. In pursuit of this goal, the German Council Presidency has called a virtual meeting of the foreign ministers. Furthermore, a broader civil society discussion will take place digitally in the form of panel discussions. The focus will be on concrete ways to enhance cooperation.

Towards a more sustainable economy and free trade

Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe have all been hit hard by the COVID‑19 pandemic and its social and economic effects. The need for economic recovery once the crisis has been overcome should be viewed as an opportunity to create a more sustainable economy by “building back better”. Establishing resilient economies depends not least on fair, rules-based and sustainable trade, and investment conditions to match. These conditions can only be met if the issues of climate change and biodiversity are taken into account in the course of the recovery efforts.

To ensure that this happens, the foreign ministers will discuss innovative financing mechanisms and investment in green technologies. One measure to this end is the EU's green investment programme LAGREEN, which also involves Germany’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau. A pilot project under this programme is the hydrogen partnership with Chile, where a plant for zero-carbon energy production is already being built with German support. Meanwhile, the EU is supporting the efforts of small and medium-sized enterprises in Latin America and the Caribbean to become greener and more sustainable with funds totalling 33 million euro.

Another concern is improving digital connections between the two continents. A major step in this regard will be the completion next year of the transatlantic undersea cable BELLA (Building Europe Link to Latin America), which links Portugal and Brazil.

Latin America Initiative

On 28 May 2019, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and 20 of his international counterparts launched a new Latin America and Caribbean Initiative with the shared goal of strengthening ties between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. At this conference, 1000 representatives from business, politics and civil society discussed cultural and economic cooperation. The event also included the creation of the women’s network Unidas, devoted to equal opportunities for women and men.

Today’s meeting of foreign ministers is a part of this initiative. In recent months, the COVID‑19 crisis has dominated the political agenda. The EU has supported efforts to fight the pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean with measures including the provision of 1.7 billion euro from EU emergency funds.