UNO July 2023

The European Union and Latin America: In pursuit of shared governance

In recent years, European integration has placed emphasis on halting the deterioration of global governance, laden by the perceived loss of importance of multilateral instruments. It has been, and continues to be, a bit of a morose effort, full of contradictions, which can be attributed to various factors. First, the lack of response from the world’s major economies, the United States and China. Secondly, a certain inconsistency in regard to the intra-European discourse, which is fragmented by national and sectoral interests that in many cases have prevailed over global discourse.

We cannot deny that the current crises and the political and economic consequences make it evident that undertaking efforts to rebuild global governance without the complicity of other global regions is impossible. This is made worse by the suffering regions outside of Europe face, being marginalized in the wake of competition between large blocs. 

History teaches us that short-term benefits from the management of available resources, especially raw materials, do not make up for the implicit assignment to third parties of the defense of one’s own interests and the abandonment of multilateralism. What we must do now is reclaim our voice, or many voices, bearing in mind that Latin America is a rich and diverse region. This richness and diversity reflect European values and give us common ground. A very bold statement could be made that no country or region shares Latin America’s values ​​and interests more than Europe – despite competition in some sectors perceived as rivalry. 

A very bold statement could be made that no country or region shares Latin America’s values ​​and interests more than Europe – despite competition in some sectors perceived as rivalry

Although a large part of Latin America and Europe agree on this analysis (unanimity is a dream which does not exist in the real world), we are a long way from being able to realize outcomes, not only at a political level, but also on a social or business level as well.

Next, we will focus on this last concept, which is vital in giving critical mass to governments and societies that seek genuine, concrete and tangible transatlantic closeness. 

There are three initial concepts that should bring attention to the dialogue between private stakeholders and the public sector in Latin America and Europe. 

The first is to understand the possibilities for public/private collaboration that is set up for success. This could be accomplished by established financing channels, preferential access to markets or real demand for synergies in the production or consumption chains. It is not merely a matter of analyzing the current situation, but also a look into the future. Essentially, we need to take both the current and future priorities of Europe and Latin America into consideration.

The second is to design strategies to implement specific business projects which include the contribution and commitment of private stakeholders in the European Union and Latin America to creating a shared space in the fields of environment, digital and sustainable development. The aim is to introduce the most general concepts as an exercise in the appropriation of the policies approved by the EU and Latin America. Additionally, the exercise should, in more general terms, supplement what the public authorities or the international financial institutions have established.

Finally, and because of the latter, is to enhance and promote conversation between both sides of the Atlantic. The Latin American business sector and European business interests in Latin America must form an active part of this public/private dialogue, contributing their experience in the management and development of economic activity. Comprehensive knowledge of the public institutions involved, and their operating mechanisms is essential to realize this aim.

The spotlight on European policy in Latin America resulting from the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU represents an opportunity to review the intervention of the private sector in the design and implementation of this new phase. Other articles in this magazine describe the central tenants of this re-examination along with its ambitions and aims. 

At LLYC, our goal is to support the European and Latin American business sectors in this new stage. Part of this entails corporate diplomacy, which plays a key role in the pursuit of that shared governance. The starting point is in-depth knowledge of the two realities, in Latin America and Europe: This is a necessary condition for providing real added value to the relationship between the two regions. 

One of the aims of our European Affairs division (LLYC European Affairs) is to contribute to the closeness, understanding and communication of Latin America and Europe. All with a view to generating a positive impact on the economy, oriented toward future sectors and anchored in our common values ​​and interests. 

The direct presence of LLYC in Latin America, with 12 offices in 10 countries across the region, where we are active in the public and private spheres, gives us a first-hand understanding of the reality these countries face and brings them closer to the European environment. 

This represents an extraordinary opportunity to launch a genuine process for the joint management of shared challenges. Through this process, we can share our abilities to strengthen global governance and reinforce the private sector so it can participate in the structural changes that are already taking place and profoundly transforming our societies.

With our deep understanding of the region and extensive presence throughout Latin America, we are dedicated to this renewed effort for collaborative governance, in which the private sector plays a crucial role.

Paloma Baena
Senior Director of European Affairs and Next Generation EU at LLYC Madrid
She is an expert in sustainability, governance, digitalization and public policies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and International Development from Harvard University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in International Law from l’Université d’Aix-Marseille III. She was a Senior Public Governance Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank, Deputy Division Chief at the OECD, Global Director of Governance at Save the Children International and VP for Strategic Alliances and AI Clarity Policy. She is a member of the Advisory Board of ADEVINTA Spain and a trustee of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Foundation. She is an Assistant Professor at IE School of Global and Public Affairs.
Pablo García-Berdoy
Principal Advisor European Affairs at LLYC
Expert in European political, institutional and regulatory matters. A diplomat since 1987, he has spent most of his career working in European affairs. He has served as Director General of Foreign Policy for Europe (2002–04), Spanish Ambassador to Romania and Moldova (2005-09), Ambassador to Germany (2012-16) and Permanent Representative to the European Union (2016–21). Since 2022, he is Principal Advisor for European Affairs at LLYC.

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