The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell was welcomed Tuesday by Argentine President Alberto Fernández at Casa Rosada to discuss the fate of the free trade agreement with Mercosur signed in June 2019 and still pending ratification.
Borrell is in Buenos Aires to attend the summit of foreign ministers from the Community of Latin American States (CELAC), where he is to discuss energy cooperation and food security.
France tops the list of European countries refusing to endorse the document unless provisions regarding environmental matters are added.
The 75-year-old Socialist Catalan diplomat also met with Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero earlier Tuesday and with Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, who made him an illustrious citizen of the Argentine capital.
With Argentina presiding over CELAC, this week's ministerial summit will feature 35 top diplomats, 25 from Latin America (Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela included) and the Caribbean, and 10 from the European Union.
During the meeting at the Argentine Foreign Ministry's headquarters, Cafiero and Borrell reviewed the broad bilateral agenda which includes climate change, gender, human rights, education, culture, digitalization, and biotechnology.
They also discussed the recently-announced REPowerEU Plan and highlighted the Memorandum of Understanding to achieve an energy alliance under the guidelines of green energy and climate change.
In post-meeting statements to the press, Cafiero underlined that the EU CELAC mechanism is very necessary in times of uncertainty, and the relationship between both blocs appears to be strategic; and the same for all the bilateral issues we are developing today: climate change, positions linked to technology transfer and energy transition, and how CELAC together with EU can develop safe and fair supply chains; that is the challenge ahead of us, to play a role linked to production, employment, and fundamentally raising this close link of so many years between Argentina and the European Union, where we highlight the investments made in our country and also, just to mention one fact, that in these first 9 months of 2022 12% of our exports go to the European market, so we have much more future together.
With the minister, we discussed the shock waves that the war in Ukraine is sending to the rest of the world in terms of high energy and food prices. The world has suffered the consequences of this war. I want to share Argentina's position in all international forums condemning the aggression and working for peace. Latin America is a continent that wants peace. It is a force for peace. So is the European Union. It was created and designed to work for peace among Europeans. And we want to be a force for peace in the world. But we have to support Ukraine in dealing with the aggression that it is suffering. That is also what we are going to talk about tomorrow with all the ministers of the region, said Borrell.
I hope that by the end of the year we will be able to put on the table proposals that respond to a joint effort of the two regions to face environmental problems, Borrell also pointed out.
The trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur has been in the works for decades, with reticence over aspects ranging from trade protection to - most recently - environmental, with strong clashes between Brazil and France over the conservation of the Amazon. Even for the protection of ecosystems, it is better to have mutual obligations than not to have mutual obligations. An agreement is better than no agreement, Borrell said earlier this week in Montevideo.
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