European and Latinamerican leaders agreed in Brussels that the two continents should continue to strengthen links in spite of the serious financial and economic situation facing the European Union.
“I think that this moment is crucial for Europe and Latin America and more cooperation is needed between Europe and Latin America, we must work jointly for economic growth in both continents”, said Antonio Tajani, Vice President of the European Commission.
Tajani made the opening speech at the Euro-Latinamerican Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Brussels to consider the consequences of the current EU crisis which threatens with contagion to the rest of the world.
He recalled that EU investments in Latinamerican countries are crucial for the region and that Europe will come out of the crisis as a stronger global player in world financial and political affairs.
“Currently in the midst of the crisis some countries look upon us with certain arrogance, thinking the European Union is over. I disagree profoundly. Europe will emerge differently but stronger, with greater cohesion and even more competitive”, said Tajani who is also the European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship.
In support of Tajani’s statements, Alicia Barcena head of the UN Economic Commission for Latinamerica and the Caribbean, Eclac, praised the approach of EU investments in the region compared to the attitude displayed by emerging powers such as China.
Barcena said that EU corporations incorporate improved standards for protection of labour rights, greater respect fro the environment, generate more jobs and overall transfer technology.
“They are investment that come to stay in the country”, underlined Barcena.
Unasur Secretary General Maria Emma Mejia said that Latinamerica should work with the EU based on “shared values” and taking into account the growing commercial weight of Latinamerica worldwide.
Nevertheless she admitted that “some numbers are overwhelming” when it comes to the growing role played by other countries in the region such is the case of China while things for Europe are “very hard”.
“South America has been looking for Asian partners and that south-south relation has strengthened but that does not mean a loss of interest towards the EU”, said Mejia
Colombian Vice-president Angelino Garzon called for a greater unity and cooperation space among EU members and each of the countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Garzon said that Latin America is particularly interested in closer links with the EU, mainly through association and free trade agreements.
The Colombian leader also made it a point to underline the significance of such issues as human rights, trade union freedoms and the environment which have been included in the Colombia/EU association and trade agreement currently in the process of legislative approval in the 27 EU members.
“We need trade agreements with a human face” said Garzon emphasizing that such documents must push for “respect for the dignity of human beings, the creation of jobs and fair salaries”.
Garzon concluded that the European crisis could reach Latinamerica and have an impact but he trusted the EU could address the situation ‘positively’.
Two Venezuelan lawmakers attending the meeting called for the need to defeat the EU and IMF sponsored “neo-liberal economic policies” and promote a true ample democracy as the only means of overcoming the Euro zone crisis.