The European Union is keen to deepen ties with Latin America including strengthening trade relations with Cuba and re-launching talks with Mercosur, a Latin-American integration block. On 11 March, the EU wrapped up its talks with Cuba leadingtowards a Political Cooperation and Dialogue Agreement, which ended more than ten years of politically frozen relations. EU’s Federica Mogherini described the agreement as “historic” as it “opens a legal framework for our economic cooperation, policy dialogues, but also much more than that. It opens up perspectives for major engagements for all”. Brussels has also used the success to call on the United States to end its trade embargo on the Caribbean nation, which has extra-territorial reach and therefore negatively impacts EU companies.
Negotiations between Mercosur and the EU, long considered basically frozen, are to be re-launched, with key talks with Mexico and Chile set to be initiated as well. The negotiations with Mexico include the upgrading of a 15-year old deal and a similar move is on the agenda for Chile as well. Mrs Mogherini said that the coming upgrade in deals with both countries should end up with agreements that are “comparable to CETA with Canada and TTIP with the United States”.
The head of the EU’s diplomacy visited Buenos Aires a few days after her visit to Havana, where she officially announced that a deal with Latin America was on its way. Mrs Mogherini said that what she saw “in Mercosur today is a very strong commitment to exchange offers and start negotiations for real. And I think this is a political opportunity that we cannot miss”. There is also a “clear recognition that the exchange of offers is a starting point for negotiations, a basis for potential improvements”, she commented, adding that the EU needs to “start negotiations immediately before the window closes”.