When need for Latin America, the main area
When it comes to the problem of drug cultivation and trafficking, the EU has been less aggressive than the US in asking the concerned countries to take action against this menace.
Perhaps the US is more aggressive on account of its proximity to Latin America, but all the same it is an important distinction. Relatedly, foreign assistance is more forthcoming from the EU than the US.
For the Latin American countries, the EU is not seen with the level of suspicion that is attached to the United States.
One factor that could help explain this is the difference in sectors of collaboration and ties that the EU and the US maintain with the Latin American countries. The EU has focused considerably on less contentious issues such as cultural relations, shared historical traditions and political ties.
This does beg the question, however, about how much this would be of benefit to the Latin American countries, which perceive better ties with other regions as primarily a route to better participation in the world economy. One could say that North America/NAFTA/FTAA or even the East Asian countries would be a better partner to Latin America in this regard.
At a time when economic progress is the prime need for Latin America, the main area where the EU can be of assistance (besides foreign aid) involves one of the most controversial issues of domestic policy in Europe-the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The enormous restrictions to the import of agricultural products to the EU are a big hurdle for the countries of the developing world. A change in this status requires a major overhaul of the EU policies.
Judging from recent developments, it is highly unlikely that this would happen in the near future. The EU is already burdened by its enlargement to the Central and Eastern Europe and how that would affect the CAP.
This is symptomatic of economic ties between the Latin America and the EU. In fact trade between these two regions is less than their trade with North America or the Asia-Pacific region.
This is why ties between Mercosur and the EU are on a much lower level than they could potentially be.
The growth in trade has come about largely due to the increase in Latin America’s imports from Europe. Even then, the EU is also considerably less competitive than Asia and the US. The creation of NAFTA has also decreased trade between EU and Mexico, which has hampered the overall trade with Latin America.
The proposed creation of the FTAA to cover the entire western hemisphere would further hamper prospects for better economic ties.
Nevertheless, Latin America is an important region for the EU when it comes to promoting an independent and common foreign policy that goes beyond the foreign policies of the individual European countries.
Historically, there have been considerable civil society linkages between the two regions, such as political parties, labour movements, that provide a solid foundation for the expansion of relations.
Furthermore, Latin American countries are less likely to suspect the motives and interests of the EU, as opposed to their relations with the United States.
For the EU, the chances of a unified viewpoint and policy about Latin America should not be too difficult to achieve, considering that
European countries do not have any strategic interests at stake there and also because no single country is too powerful in relation to the others. Latin America can benefit greatly from especially those areas where assistance from the US is less forthcoming. This includes development, regional integration, and human rights.
Considering that about 17 per cent of the population of Latin America lives in ‘extreme poverty’, a proportion that is greater than those living in similar conditions in East Asia, the Middle East or Central and Eastern Europe, the EU can play an important role here.
The European Union is already the main source of foreign aid for Latin America, though there is an apprehension that, with the spread of EU foreign policy, foreign aid might be diverted to other developing areas. But for now, aid has been increasing for Latin America.
Other areas of interest for the EU, such as democratic consolidation and human rights are increasing in importance for Latin American governments as well.
But the fact is that such considerations are directly related to the level of economic development. 12, while promoting such objectives as stability and democracy, EU countries have to see it in the context of an overall economic growth.
To be noted that, democratic consolidation is a major goal of regional integration in Latin America. It is here that Europe can be of immense help. Through the half-century long experience of European countries in matters of regional integration, the overall goals of stability, democracy and economic growth can be promoted.
Peace and security has also been one of the goals of Latin American integration. Common policies on defence and security are also something that EU nations can assist with.
After all, the genesis of the European Union lies in the quest for peace there in the post-war period. It seems that for the time being, non-economic sectors are the best bet for expecting positive Changes in the EU-Latin America relations.