Interview on strengthening the partnership for sustainable development between Europe and LAC with the postdoctoral fellow at Université Libre de Bruxelles: Bruno Theodoro Luciano.
How can Europe and LAC work together to strengthen democracy and help each other deal with democratic drift?
So, Europe and Latin America - they can do a lot together to make sure that the democratic institutions in both continents are safe. We see democratic drifts from both regions, in particular in Central and Eastern Europe, but also in Latin America, decades-long cases such as Venezuela and Nicaragua have been very challenging in terms of freedom of opposition, free elections, and so on. And I think both regions can act accordingly to make sure that the democratic institutions, not just at the bi-regional level but also national levels, are protected. And I think this is a very important contribution from both regions. I think that this is one of the aspects usually referred to when we think about how both regions have a lot of convergence in terms of the values and principles. They share and certainly protect democracy at the local, national and also at the regional level, by establishing regional organizations with democratic elements such as what we're seeing in the European Parliament and also several attempts in Latin America regions to bring civil society, parliamentarians, economic sectors closer to the decision making and the development of regional public policies.
How can Europe and LAC cooperate to address contemporary social tensions in both regions?
Yeah, I think Europe and Latin America, they really can engage more on especially two main challenges that both regions have been facing, first - inequality and the other one is the incremental development of welfare states. And I think both regions can exchange contributions from local policies and national policies and even supranational policies in the case of European Union that were essential over the past years. For instance, Europeans can learn from Latin Americas with several cash transfer programs that countries such as Brazil and Mexico have been developing over the past years in a way of reducing inequalities, making sure that sensitive groups are not left behind. And on the other hand, I think Latin American countries can learn much more from Europeans in terms of developing stronger and more consolidated welfare states, making sure that you have a free and quality education and public health services that also can reduce social tensions and social inequalities. And that's fundamental if you want to have a more sustainable societies in the future. And avoid for example violence, inequalities, and social tensions for the future.
How can Europe and LAC work together to tackle environmental challenges?
Yeah, climate change and fight against deforestation are spreading the idea of working on adapting to climate change are key topics for the bioregional relationship between Europeans and Latin Americans that should continue in the future. If we look at, for example the Buenos Aires Road map signed last year. There's a lot of meetings discussing climate change and also it seems that Europeans are much more interested, for instance, on getting more engaged on select adaptation and response disasters fund. That's very important, because in a way, it's understanding that both regions have this fundamental challenge ahead and they have to work together to make sure that they can not only reduce the consequences, but also, unfortunately both regions have to adapt to the climate change that's coming on. I think it's also interesting to look at how the Amazon Fund initiative by Brazilian government has been supported by European countries in the beginning by Germany and Norway. But for instance, most recently the United Kingdom also showed to be very much interested in contributing to this fund as well. So, the fund would make sure that there's enough grants for the Amazon region in Brazil to make sure that we don't incur too much deforestation and also make sure that local communities can develop alongside the preservation of the forest, which is key if we want to make sure that we have stable and sustainable communities in the Amazon region. And that should not just be discussing in terms of the Brazilian part of the Amazon, but also we should think of whether we can expand these initiatives towards the rest of the Amazon region including Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and other. The whole continent of South America.
How should free trade agreements be designed to contribute to sustainable development?
Yeah, for good or for worse the association agreements that Europe and Africa have been developing and negotiating with Latin America are the key tools to actually implement certain principles and certain policies and also to bring the regions closer. Obviously, you have sectors from both Europe and Latin America that are not very satisfied with the agreements. Especially because of issues of protectionism in terms of trade, agriculture, industry services, but also and more importantly nowadays the issue of sustainable development, climate protection, deforestation, which is a key issue and helps us understand why negotiations have not been moving on as fast as we expected before. Over the past years there is an expectation because of the Spanish presence of the European Union, we might see a new development on this. There is already a discussion on an additional environmental protocol to include in the EU macro school negotiations, for example. That might also have implications after Mercosur agreements as well. So yeah, hopefully these additional protocols will be accepted or at least make sure that both sides are satisfied with the new terms of the agreements. And then we can for the near future expect political ratification of the agreement and future implementation which would come with challenges because again, different actors in both regions, they are still against the agreement. But still, if we think about how we can really implement the policies at the by regional levels. Associations, agreements, are fundamental pillars. They are the ones that actually bring the commitments, actual commitments that will be implemented by Member States from both sides of the Atlantic in this case.