by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – The European Union seeks to establish stronger ties with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC); that is the consensus coming out of day one of the two-day summit in Brussels.
The heads of state and government of the EU and CELAC are on the last day of high-level meetings, the first meeting in eight years following the previous one organised in 2015.
According to international reports, the European Union pledged to invest more in Latin America and the Caribbean on Monday (July 17). The pledge aims to “revamp its international relationships prompted by Russia’s war on Ukraine and growing wariness of China”.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a business forum that the three regions needed each other more than ever. The EU was planning to invest 45 billion euros in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its Global Gateway scheme, which is considered a rival to China’s Belt and Road programme of infrastructure investments.
Reuters reports that the EU is the biggest foreign investor in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, China is the region’s second-biggest trading partner, the biggest being the United States.
Chair of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadine, hon Dr Ralph Gonsalves highlighted the lopsided relationship between the EU and Latin American and Caribbean States. Dr Gonsalves said the summit should emphasise addressing the inequality in the multilateral relationship and take steps to rectify this in a mutually beneficial manner with emphasis on countries historically disadvantaged.
“Hopefully, this summit will arrive with mutually satisfactory conclusions on a bundle of compelling issues touching and concerning, among other things – inclusive, sustainable development, hunger and food security, meaningful reform of the global financial architecture in accord with the central thrust of the Bridgestone Initiative, renewable energy, ramped-up ambitions and actions on climate change mitigation and adaptation, tangible delivery on commitments to climate financial loss and damage funding for vulnerable countries, public health and pandemics, education, science and technology, the frontiers and resources of space and the deep seabed, marine transport, the digital transmission, reparatory justice for native genocide and the enslavement of African bodies, the cessation of unilateral coercive economic sanctions against some CELAC member countries, the unjust and counterproductive weaponising of the banking and financial systems, the unlawful interference and intervention in the internal affairs of countries, the quest for peace and security and the promotion of international law.”
The Bridgetown Initiative the Chair mentions is a three-step proposal to reform development finance.
The three steps outlined in the Bridgetown Initiative
- provision of emergency liquidity to stop the debt crisis in its tracks
- expanding multilateral lending to Governments by US$1 trillion, and
- activate private sector savings for climate mitigation and fund reconstruction after a climate disaster through new multilateral mechanisms.
The CELAC Chair said he expects some issues to bring controversy, but that should not stop any progress toward reaching satisfactory outcomes on most if not all of them.
Prime Minister Gonsalves asked that the summit not be encompassed by the war in Ukraine and not a place for unproductive posturing and asked for a cessation of hostilities.
“Member states of the European Union may have an understandable preoccupation with the situation in Ukraine. But this summit ought not to become another unhelpful battleground for discourses on this matter, which has been and continues to be addressed in other more relevant forums. Majority diplomacy is what is required between the contending parties to effect the resolution, which, if not entirely satisfactory to each party, is at least a conclusion of mutually agreed dissatisfaction. The war continues to consume abundant treasure and cause the shedding of unnecessary blood. And the global economy bleeds unnecessarily as the warring and fighting bring enormous additional pain and suffering to the poor in distant lands through rising prices of food, oil and borrowings. So, let there be constructive peace talks, not unproductive posturing in quest of hegemony or imperial domination.”
In his remarks at the summit, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Hon. Dr Terrance Drew, addressed the effect climate change continues to have on the Federation and our commitment to climate resilience and a holistic approach to sustainability.
At the conclusion of his remarks, the Prime Minister called for the end of the embargo on Cuba and more assistance for Haiti as it goes through social, political and economic turmoil.
“It is imperative to maintain a rules-based international order which is central to the principles of multilateralism. In this regard, as a member of the family of nations from my region, I reiterate the call that has been made here today for the end of the embargo against Cuba. The Cuban people have suffered a lot, indeed. In Europe, we call for dialogue and a diplomatic solution to the Russia/Ukraine war. Additionally, it would be remiss of me if I were not to mention that we must not forget our brothers and sisters in Haiti and work together to resolve the Haitian security and humanitarian crisis. It is my hope that we can continue our meaningful dialogue about how we can re-energise the renewed EU-CELAC partnership will work to achieve transformative growth. St. Kitts and Nevis is committed to being a reliable friend and partner in our collective effort to protect our people and our planet.”
See the Prime Minister’s full remarks here:
Leaders during the summit will have discussed a wide range of topics intending to strengthen further the EU-CELAC partnership, including global peace and stability, trade and investment, economic recovery, climate change, justice and security and more.