Thursday, July 18, 2024

LATIN AMERICA | 17-07-2023 19:09

Alberto Fernández at EU-CELAC Summit with clean energy first on agenda

President Alberto Fernández signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation with the EU.

President Alberto Fernández arrived in Brussels on Monday, to take part in the 3rd Summit between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac in its Spanish acronym), in the Belgian capital, one of the 60 heads of state of the 27 EU and 33 Eclac countries, nearly all of whom are attending.

Fernández met the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at the Berlaymont building in Brussels, where they signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation between Argentina and the EU – aimed at reaching clean energy targets and fighting climate change, chiefly in terms of green hydrogen and its derivatives, renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency.

 Alberto Fernández’s speech

When he took the floor, President Alberto Fernández stated: “Latin America and the Caribbean is a region marked by deep socioeconomic gaps, where millions face poverty and lack access to basic utilities. In the case of Argentina, this escalating crisis came on top of the negative effect generated by a debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which my administration would have never incurred, but is now facing with much effort and deep responsibility. I celebrate that Europe, part of the developed North, looks at the Caribbean and Latin America, part of the developing South, with an integrating vocation.”

“It is necessary,” continued the President, “for the developed world to meet the commitment it assumed to provide the necessary financial resources to enable us to develop clean and sustainable energies”.

In terms of the relationship between countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Fernández said that “it must be based on trust, dialogue and mutual cooperation. Our interaction must contemplate existing asymmetries and imbalances between our regions as a starting-point”.

“If we consider all that, we can build an economic and commercial axis not falling into the new bipolarity coming into the horizon view. By working together, we can present an alternative to the challenges proposed by the globalised world,” the Argentine head of state concluded.

The memorandum of understanding came against the backdrop of the controversy related to the delayed agreement between the European bloc and Mercosur.

The free trade agreement between the “Old World” and Mercosur, reached in early 2019 after two decades of negotiations, is yet to be ratified and negotiations have been delayed due to environmental demands affecting the farming sector added last March by the EU.

“The EU took from mid-2019 to late February this year to send an additional document on the environment; that is, they took nearly four years to write it,” sources from the Argentine government reminded Télam news agency.

Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay reacted to that document and Brazil asked for a little more time while changing government and has been working on the texts ever since although Brasilia’s new administration is not much less reluctant to accept Europe’s environmental conditions than was the Jair Bolsonaro presidency.

Despite hopes that a Spanish presidency of the EU might lead to a more positive attitude towards Latin America unblocking the EU-Mercosur agreement, there was little optimism that consensus could be found among dozens of government chiefs in only two days but there were other items on the agenda. France has proposed a focus on progress towards democracy in Venezuela as a substitute for the environmental deadlock, Caribbean countries are pressing for reparations for past centuries of slavery and Europe cannot ignore the war in Ukraine as its top priority.

Investments for Latin America and the Caribbean

Von Der Leyen announced that the European Union is to invest 45 billion euros in Latin America and the Caribbean at the opening of the roundtable with political and corporate leaders prior to the EU-CELAC Summit: “Over 135 projects are already under way, from green hydrogen to critical raw materials, from the expansion of high-performance data cable networks to the production of the most advanced RNA vaccines”.

In the same vein, Von der Leyen highlighted that Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean will have to “agree which sectors and value chains to prioritise”, together with the best way to further these investments with technical support, standards and capacities.

Lula’s words

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, assured on Monday in Brussels that his country is willing to discuss such topics as climate and transition to renewable energies with the European Union (EU).

“We wish to go deeper into discussions on climate with the EU”, said Lula, during a meeting with Von der Leyen.

The Brazilian chief executive said that in August he will present a development programme for the country, including an “energy transition package”.

Brazil, Lula added, “will do its part on the climate matter. We have a commitment to zero deforestation by 2030 in the Amazon, and it is almost rooted in faith for me and the Brazilian people.”

However, he asked Von der Leyen that “the EU should understand that 50 million people live in the Amazon and they require proper survival conditions.”


In this news


More in (in spanish)