The European Commission has outlined a new development plan with focus on Latin America with aiming to leverage Spain’s strong ties to the region. The new strategy will help middle-income countries that are not eligible for development aid and showcase EU experience with that group of countries around the world. Many Latin American countries have seen their development money cut or scaled back so the EU plans to step in and provide other types of valuable help such as educational support and technical assistance.
“Spain has a bilateral, historical, influential and sensitive relationship with Latin America. I’ve proposed to the Spanish government that we turn that into something that can help the EU maintain a strong presence in middle-income countries, which we could rename as ‘countries in transition’,” DG DEVCO Director-General Stefano Manservisi explained and added that “if the current development agenda (the Sustainable Development Goals) is global, then we have to maintain our commitments with all those countries. Quantitative GDP per capita is one indicator but it is not reason enough to break away from development commitments. Many Latin American countries still have very unequal societies.”
Mr. Manservisi also said that the EU would like to focus on strengthening the region’s civil society. To support this initiative, he met with Spanish NGOs and nonprofits who have expressed their support for an EU-level development but stressed that Brussels must not forget that the primary objective was fight against poverty in developing countries. The current development aid for Latin American that is housed under the “Multiannual Indicative Program for Latin America” focuses on reinforcing the capacity of Latin American countries to ensure security leading to inclusive development as well as good governance, accountability, social equity, environment, and education. The overall budget for 2014-2020 amounts to €925 million.