Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to Brussels, it is a great pleasure to host you in Brussels for the second edition of the EU-CELAC Summit.
The Summit is an opportunity to reflect on what we have achieved and how our ties must develop in the future.
1/ Our two regions are already among the most interconnected in the world
26 of the 33 CELAC countries have concluded bilateral or sub-regional agreements with the EU. They create frameworks for dialogue, cooperation and trade.
The European Union is the second trade partner of CELAC with 212 billion euros of exchanges in 2013. These flows have doubled in the past decade.
We are also the largest investors with a stock of over 500 billion euros, much more than what we have in India, Russia and China combined.
But it is not just about the quantity but also the quality. These investments generate jobs, are respectful of social and environmental standards and contribute to higher productivity gains in destination countries. Two thirds of the European investments in Latin America and the Caribbean involve transfer of technology.
Investment is also increasing in the opposite direction. We also want to attract more CELAC investment in Europe. We have proposed an EU investment plan that is one of the key pillars of our economic recovery and is open to contributions from all.
2/ The EU has always supported CELAC and will continue to do so
I applaud the development of Latin America and the Caribbean in the last decade, where more than 70 million people were lifted from poverty. This is an inspiring story for the rest of the world.
Throughout all these years the EU has kept its commitment to the development of the entire region. The funds we have allocated to cooperation for the next period will remain unchanged. Almost 2.5 billion euros for Latin America to support programmes in the areas of education, information society, environment, support to SMEs; and an additional billion for the Caribbean countries which have particular needs linked to their vulnerability to climate change. The immense challenge of reconstruction of Haiti deserves particular attention from our side.
The European Investment Bank, the financial arm of the EU, will provide for loan guarantees for investment operations in the region of up to 2.3 billion euros.
3/ As CELAC is transformed, our relations must be transformed
The relationship between the EU and CELAC is not about aid flowing from North to South. You are developed, growing, dynamic economies and societies.
Development policy is the perfect example of this. Many CELAC countries are themselves donors of assistance rather than beneficiaries. New opportunities for South-South cooperation are opening up and we want to be partners in this process.
I am happy to announce that the Commission will set up an international cooperation facility aimed precisely at triangular cooperation.
CELAC countries face new types of challenges, not about creating growth, but about sustaining growth. Not about having more people in the formal economy but also about having more qualified people. We have to re-direct our cooperation towards areas such as higher education, innovation, research. That is where we can make a difference for our children. want to launch an appeal to create a common research area between the two regions. We can draw on the EU Horizon 2020 – the world’s largest collaborative research programme with a 80 billion budget – entirely open to participants from CELAC countries.
The European Union will also finance over the next years almost 10.000 mobility actions for students and researchers from the region. To this you have to add the thousands of students that will be hosted by our Member States in their bilateral exchange programmes. ur companies have to work together in cutting edge technologies. We need to have projects that reflect the scale of our ambitions. oday, we are announcing today a EUR 26.5 million contribution to the fibre optic cable that will link our two regions for the first time. A cable that reaches from Europe to Brazil and then branches out across the continent. A wonderful symbol of our cooperation.
4/ We have to work together on global issues
We will have no excuse if we fail to deepen and broaden our bi-regional association. We will have no excuse if we fail to tackle the global challenges together. Our planet and our citizens demand it from us.
The fight against climate change requires a binding, ambitious and dynamic global agreement from the Paris summit. Peru has put us on track for this, and in Paris we need to deliver. I have mentioned our children. This is the best legacy we can leave to future generations. We also commit to keep our fruitful cooperation on climate change, addressing, mitigation, adaptation and promoting clean energy through the EUROCLIMA programme.
We need to join forces to establish a new development agenda post-2015, encompassing poverty eradication and sustainable development. Our common task is to reach goals which are limited – so that our efforts can be focused and more effective – universal – applying to all countries, big or small, wealthy and less wealthy – and measurable – so that we can keep track of our achievements.
Together we can make a difference in tackling the world drug problem. We need to devise a balanced strategy, acting both on supply and demand, putting the human person and health at the center of our policies and always respecting human rights. o this effect we have just extended the duration of our flagship programme on drugs – COPOLAD – and for the first time we have expanded it to the Caribbean countries, which are also part of this joint effort.
Most of all we need to remain ambitious, in our partnership and in facing global challenges. Because as Ortega y Gasset, the great philosopher, once said: “It is only possible to progress if you think big, it is only possible to move forward if you look far ahead”.