In the picture
Official photo of the III EU-CELAC Summit, held in Brussels in July 2023 [EU Commission].
The European Union has begun to manage the agreements reached with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) at last July's summit. Long overdue, the summit served to resume the commitment to cooperation between the two regions: at a time of high technological demands, the EU can share digital advances, while Latin American countries can supply crucial materials for the new industrial revolution, such as green hydrogen or lithium, whose production requires foreign investment. Whether the desire of partnership does not remain mere declarations as on other occasions depends on how the geopolitical urgency of the new world order is perceived.
The holding of the III EU-CELAC Summit in July 2023 was important in itself, as it meant a reunion that had not taken place since the 2015 summit (the next one should be held in two years' time). The double workshop convened in Brussels, during the Spanish presidency, focused on the digital opportunity offered by the partnership between Europe and Latin America. At the summit, issues such as cooperation in the field of key raw materials, such as rare earth metals, open market access and sustainable development were discussed. The strengthening of cooperation in multilateral fora and global peace and security were also discussed.
Prior to the summit, the European Commission pledged an investment of 45 billion euros until 2027 largely earmarked for energy transition and connectivity in CELAC countries, managed through the EU's main external action initiative, the Global Gateway. This with the goal to improve relations and thus become the first partner in the region. Large regional banks, such as CAF and IDB, also participate in the investments.
diary of the Global Gateway investment
The diary Global Gateway is an initiative to strengthen the EU as a global player and promote European values. It is a geopolitical project to compete with China's Belt and Road Initiative. Examples of such investments include the following projects:
agreement With the 'Team Europe' initiative, the EU is promoting the development of renewable hydrogen in Chile. Under this initiative the EU will invest 4 million euros in this initiative and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) another 4 million euros. A Renewable Hydrogen Fund was also created with an budget of 216 million euros. The EU Latin America and Caribbean Investment Fund (EU LACIF) is contributing EUR 16.5 million and the European Investment Bank (EIB) together with the German development Bank (KfW) is contributing EUR 200 million. The objectives of the program are: the transformation of Chile into a regional leader in green hydrogen subject , the production of 150% of the existing global H2 market and 15% of future demand by 2050, and the reduction of emissions from Chile's mining sector. An important fact is that Germany, due to its large industry, has a need for green hydrogen and therefore finances a significant part of the investments.
Investments in El Salvador's internal transport: In El Salvador, the Union will mainly finance two projects to improve mobility within the country. The first project is the Pacific Train, for cargo and passenger transport, which will receive financing of 150 million euros. The train will connect San Salvador with Acajutla, a coastal town 80 kilometers from the capital, and it would be possible to extend it to the border with Guatemala. The second project is a metro line of subject monorail in the area Metropolitan San Salvador with an investment of 300 million euros. These two projects will be beneficial for trade in El Salvador and will improve the country's internal transportation.
Decarbonization of the Panama Canal: The EU is also investing in the process of decarbonizing the Panama Canal. The Canal has the goal to become carbon neutral by 2030. The strategy to meet this goal implies, for example, that ships use sustainable fuel such as H2 or synthetic fuel and that the production of electricity for the operation of the Canal is carbon neutral. This investment is core topic because it coincides perfectly with the new diary of investments in Latin America's energy transition.
EU-CELAC Digital Alliance
The commitment to the partnership digital is also part of the Global Gateway framework . The Digital Alliance, according to the EU itself, is "an informal cooperation framework based on shared values". The initiative has three pillars - investments in connectivity, cybersecurity and digital rights - and is to be financed with3.4 billion euros for Latin America from the Global Gateway program budget and 135 billion euros from the European Fund for Sustainable development Plus. The abstract objectives of the Digital Alliance are similar to those of the Global Gateway, but specifically deal with the digital transition, the creation of laws for digital services and markets, and the regulation of digital investments. This policy is used to enhance the Union's strategic position in the region and because both regions have common interests in the region.
The data show that there is a wide gap in Internet access between the EU and CELAC. In the EU, 97% of households have an Internet connection, but in Latin America and the Caribbean the figure is only 67%. Furthermore, there is a big difference between CELAC countries; for example, in Brazil 77% of households have an Internet connection while in Haiti it is only 7%. It can be concluded that investments in connectivity are necessary and important to reduce the gap between regions, but it is necessary that investments prioritize the countries that would benefit most from them.
The partnership also includes cooperation for infrastructures such as the BELLA program and the Copernicus Centers and will establish dialogues on digital policies, Internet governance, protection of data, artificial intelligence and other relevant technologies. However, for the realization of the goals huge investments are needed because just to adjust the connectivity gap would require investments of more than $50 billion, so it can be stated that despite the great goals of agreement, there is still no clear path to achieve them.