Eu and Latin America Foreign Affairs Ministers meet in Santo Domingo on 19 and 20 April

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Brussels, 19 April 2007

EU and Latin America Foreign Affairs Ministers meet in Santo Domingo on 19 and 20 April

EU Foreign Affairs Ministers will meet with Ministers from the “Rio Group”, a forum assembling Latin America and Caribbean countries, on 20 April 2007 in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). This meeting will be preceded on 19 April by Ministerial meetings with the Andean Community, Central America (San José Dialogue), Mercosur and Mexico. Discussions of the EU-Rio Group ministers will focus on Haiti, energy, the environment and climate change, strengthening multilateralism (notably in the fields of human rights and drugs), middle income countries and their fight against poverty, and the future of the EU-Rio Group relations. The EU will be represented by the current EU presidency, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, by the European Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and by the High Representative, Javier Solana. While in Santo Domingo, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner will also announce some of the aid packages that the Commission has proposed for Latin America for the 2007-2013 amounting to a total of more than €2.6 billion.

On the eve of the meeting, Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said “I believe that it is fair to say that the European Union and Latin America have made significant progress in the last few years. The successful Vienna Summit, the perspectives of negotiations for Association Agreements with Central America and the Andean Community, or the establishment of the EU- Latin America Parliamentary Assembly are just a few elements that support my belief. And now, our new assistance programmes reflect the weight of our commitment to the region. We are determined to keep moving forward!”

The European Commission will present its new cooperation strategy for Latin America for the years 2007 to 2013 that will be accompanied by a substantial aid package amounting €2,690 million1. This new strategy is based on the priorities discussed with the different countries. The main elements are:

1) promotion of social cohesion: fight against poverty, social inequality and exclusion;

2) support of regional integration and economic co-operation;

3) promotion of mutual understanding between the EU and Latin America;

4) good governance, human rights; and

5) sustainable development including forest protection and biodiversity.

On top of this allocation, there will also be a number of thematic programmes accessible to all Latin America countries, such as education, health, environment, migration and civil society, for which a budget is not yet defined.

In Santo Domingo, on the Commission aid dedicated to Latin America Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: “In Vienna we committed ourselves to make sure that the future aid to Latin America would match our commitments with the region. I believe that with this package we have delivered on our promises.

The two day ministerial meetings will be distributed as follows:
Thursday 19 April 2007
10h00-11h15 Political Dialogue between the European Union (27) and MERCOSUR
12h00-13h15 22nd Ministerial meeting of the San José Dialogue between European Union (troika) and Central America
14h00-15h30 Working Lunch between the European Union (27) and the Andean Community
16h30-18h00 Joint Council between the European Union (open troika) and México: Political Dialogue, Cooperation and Economic Affairs

Friday 20 April 2007
10h00 - 15.45 Opening Ceremony and working sessions of the 13th ministerial meeting (27) between the European Union and the Rio Group
12h30-12h45 Family Picture
A press conference will follow each meeting.

The Latin America Permanent Mechanism of Political Consultation and Coordination – the Rio Group - was created in 1986 in Rio de Janeiro. Today the members are Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM, represented by Guyana), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. The first Ministerial meeting between the EU and the Rio Group was in 1990. Since then Foreign Ministers of the two regions have met every two years, alternating with the years of the Summits between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean. The last meeting of the EU and the Rio Group took place in Luxembourg in May 2005.

Further information on the EU’s relations with Latin America:

1 For the assistance dedicated to Central America see IP/07/505: EU-Central America: Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to announce €840 million aid programme during visit to Guatemala

The specific assistance for the other countries and regions is still in the process of adoption by the European Commission.

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