European Union ambassador in Buenos Aires Alfonso Diez Torres said that the Falklands/Malvinas issue does not figure in the foreign affairs agenda of the EU, it’s a bilateral issue and he does not see any reason to amend the Lisbon treaty to exclude the disputed South Atlantic Islands as demanded by Argentina.
“The Falklands/Malvinas issue does not belong to the framework of the EU foreign policy. We have a foreign policy that does not cover everything, besides the EU criteria is that there must be a full consensus”, said Diez Torres interviewed by La Nacion.
The EU ambassador explained that there is certain confusion regarding the Lisbon treaty since the fact that the Falklands/Malvinas are included is “merely descriptive”. Member states enumerate their overseas territories and in this case “it’s an article from previous treaties”.
“This does not imply acknowledgement of UK sovereignty over the Falklands/Malvinas by EU members. This must be defined bilaterally between the UK and Argentina. The fact today is that the Islands are under British jurisdiction and this must be discussed with Argentina. It’s senseless to amend the Lisbon Treaty, otherwise Spain could not have signed with the UK the EU treaty because of the Gibraltar dispute, so definitively it does not make sense to pretend to amend the Lisbon treaty, which would also require the unanimity of all EU parliaments and the different procedures”, pointed out Diez Torres.
Talking about other EU/Argentina bilateral issues such as trade and the President Cristina Fernandez administration current policy of limiting imports, the EU ambassador said these measures are not helpful and one or several EU members could decide not to open their markets to Argentina.
“As we see it there are clear indications Argentina wants a highly competitive industry and not based on protectionism, thus we believe that the trade agreement Mercosur/EU would be crucial to foster investment”, said Diez Torres.
About the possibility of the EU appealing to the World Trade Organization, WTO, because of Argentina’s policy, the ambassador was cautious and said it was not a question of dramatizing. “When these things occur the procedure is to make a request before the WTO and we know that the WTO is concerned about this attitude and the case in under analysis, but so far there has been no decision to move forward to the following step or to demand sanctions”.
The Argentine debt with the Club of Paris of sovereign creditors was also brought up and described by the EU ambassador as one of the pending issues to normalize full economic relations, “it would be a signal to grant Argentina greater confidence”.
“If one compares the Argentine macroeconomic and growth situations with investment confidence indexes it is evident there is a misbalance which can be explained because of situations of this kind (Club of Paris)” insisted the EU diplomat.
The EU remains the main investor in Argentina and in the long term a “trade and investment agreement between Mercosur and the EU could represent a seal of quality that goes beyond any legal or contractual doubts that could exist”.
Finally regarding the consequences of the Euro debt crisis, Diez Torres said that a slower economic activity in the EU means lesser exports, “but at the same time the need to search for new emerging markets and that can be seen as the positive side of any crisis”.