At the last summit between the European Union and Latin American countries, a dispute arose over the Ukraine crisis, which is why the meeting ended in a diplomatic fiasco for Europeans. [This happened] because the sides’ disagreement over a joint statement on this issue represents a setback for the EU when it comes to condemning and isolating Russia on the international stage.
By Alexander Männer
The first major summit meeting between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in eight years was intended to be a “celebration of the resumption of partnership” between the communities but turned into a diplomatic fiasco for Europeans. The reason was that the two-day meeting in Brussels was overshadowed by a dispute over the Ukraine war declaration, which some Latin American countries did not support.
Politico magazine reports that the joint statement did not condemn Russia for the special military operation due to the attitude of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela. Accordingly, during several rounds of negotiations, the sides were never able to reach a mutually acceptable solution on this issue. Talks quickly stalled after EU officials tried to persuade Latin American states to condemn Russia for its hostilities in Ukraine. In the end, it was only possible to jointly determine that the ongoing war is causing immense human suffering and thus increasing the global economy’s real vulnerabilities.
The declaration ended up being a setback for the West because the EU had set itself the goal of sending a joint message to Russian President Vladimir Putin with the declaration of the summit meeting. It should have been made clear to him that he is increasingly “isolated” in the world community. However, Russia is not mentioned in the final statement. In it, the majority of the summit participants expressed deep concern about the war. They stressed the need for a just and sustainable peace.
Apart from that, Brussels is essentially concerned with competing with China in the region after trade with the Asian economic powerhouse has enjoyed an unprecedented upswing. Therefore, the EU wanted, among other things, to pave the way for its project called “Global Gateway” and to oppose it to the Chinese “Silk Road” initiative for the Global South. “Global Gateway Initiative” is the counter-proposal to global economic development by China as part of the “New Silk Road”, which the People’s Republic has also extended to South America.
With this in mind, European companies, supported by the EU Commission, want to invest in South America – for example in energy projects, in infrastructure and in the extraction of raw materials. There is talk of 45 billion euros that should flow in the next four years. The primary aim is to outperform China and Russia, which are also already heavily involved in Latin America.
In this regard, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had previously visited the region to restore deadlocked relations. During the trip, von der Leyen offered investments for the entire region, particularly in the energy deal related to green hydrogen and lithium.
As far as the cooperation between the two communities is concerned, almost all participants at the summit are extremely satisfied, as the Tagesschau (German television program) reports. Acting CELAC Chairman Ralph Gonsalves spoke of a historic meeting: “Because of this agreement, the relationship between CELAC and the European Union is stronger today than it was yesterday or the day before.”
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also of the opinion that the consultations were successful overall. Both sides want to work more closely together to combat climate change, advance digitization or extract raw materials. But unlike in the past, part of the net product[ion] should take place locally.
“Often everything was just taken out of the ground as an extractivismo and then transported somewhere,” said Scholz. “We want to ensure that at least the first processing stage takes place in the countries where the raw materials are located so that prosperity can be generated there.”