Statement by the Foreign Ministers from 18 countries in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – COVID-19 (10 July 2020)


The Foreign Ministers from 18 countries [1] in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who are today meeting at the ministerial conference on 10 July 2020 at the invitation of France, Spain and the European Union, pay tribute to the victims of the COVID-19 epidemic. We would like to express our warmest thanks and support for the dedication, efforts and sacrifices beyond the call of duty from medical professionals, healthcare workers and other frontline staff. We believe that the unprecedented health, economic and social crisis caused by this pandemic compels us to pool our resources through detailed political dialogue in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation which fuels the relationship between our two regions.

To this end:

1. We reaffirm our desire to strengthen cooperation between both regions to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, particularly the economic and social consequences. This cooperation, based on a bi-regional strategic partnership and the values which we share, is in line with our shared will for our populations to live in fair, inclusive, prosperous, sustainable and democratic societies. We are convinced that by relaunching close dialogue based on trust between both regions, we will help overcome the challenges of this crisis to build a better future for the countries of the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean.

2. We recall that relations between both regions are key as regards their economies and societies: the European Union is the biggest investor in Latin America and the Caribbean, and its biggest provider of cooperation, while the ALC region has traditionally been one of the growth drivers in the international economy. Furthermore, trade between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean has grown steadily in the last decade, and according to the EU’s external strategy for the fight against COVID-19, it is one of the levers for a quick return to growth.

3. We welcome the solidarity which unites us, which was clear from the start of the COVID-19 health crisis. Our countries have worked effectively, with the help of the European Union, to ensure that citizens affected by movement restrictions while travelling abroad can receive assistance. We have worked together and will continue to do so to ensure they can all return to their countries of residence.

4. We recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable people and impacts progress in health and development, particularly in developing countries, hindering the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the 2030 Agenda.

5. We reiterate our support for the United Nations, and particularly the World Health Organization, for its role in the international coordination of the COVID-19 response, so that it continues efforts to tackle the health crisis and remains transparent and coherent when drawing up recommendations. Cooperation and solidarity must be central to our response to the pandemic. We support the impartial, independent and comprehensive evaluation, as soon as possible, to implement the lessons learned from the international WHO-coordinated health response to COVID-19 set out in the COVID-19 Response Resolution adopted at the World Health Assembly on 19 May. We pledge to strengthen the international health protection system, and particularly to fully implement previously agreed health standards, like the International Health Regulations.

6. We undertake to fight against the lack of fundamental medical equipment, encourage the timely movement of the necessary equipment and products to prevent and treat the illness and view future access to vaccines as global public goods. For this reason, we are supporting the ‘Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator’ initiative, which aims to speed up the development, production and fair and universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against COVID-19 and strengthen health systems, especially in the most vulnerable countries and most disadvantaged sectors in our societies. We also encourage scientists and public health officials from both regions to continue and even step up their exchanges of expertise.

7. Beyond the health emergency, we must learn from the crisis and avoid the most damaging consequences in the medium and long term. To do so, we will evaluate our cooperation as regards medical, biological and pharmaceutical research in order to identify how it can be strengthened. The next bi-regional Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on Science and Technology of the Joint Initiative on Research and Innovation (JIRI), planned for the second half of 2020, will analyze how we can better contribute to these efforts.

8. We are seriously concerned about the economic and social consequences of the health crisis, including increased unemployment and the considerable drop in income. These consequences can be overcome with the full and safe recovery of economic activity, in line with various situations and following the guidelines of the relevant authorities. We are redirecting national cooperation instruments and European funds and programmes to facilitate the recovery and achieve a sustainable exit to the crisis so that our societies can be more sustainable, prosperous, fair, digital and democratic.

9. We call on civil society organizations in our respective countries to remain mobilized to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals under the 2030 Agenda and we invite all bi-regional forums, particularly actors working in that direction, such as the EU-LAC Foundation or the EU-CELAC technical groups, to work with them. We agree to study together the measures which can help restore the movement of people between both regions as soon as possible, particularly students, researchers, cooperation experts and entrepreneurs. We acknowledge that cooperation to tackle this pandemic must involve the various public and private actors in order to optimize the use of resources.

10. We recall that both regions also maintain close dialogue and are cooperating in the area of humanitarian or political crises seeking political and peaceful solutions. One such recent example bringing together countries from both regions was the International Donors Conference in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the countries of the region organized by Spain and the European Union on 26 May 2020.

11. We reiterate our support for all the goals and purposes enshrined in the United Nations Charter and our commitment to reach ambitious agreements in the upcoming conferences on climate change (COP26) and biodiversity (COP15) in 2021. We are convinced that this crisis is yet another reason to strengthen the multilateral system.

12. We reiterate that respect for human rights, freedom of expression and all other fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are guarantors of the legitimacy of the necessary means for tackling the crisis resulting from the pandemic, even in the most difficult conditions.

13. To meet these objectives we have decided to maintain regular dialogue and we call on the other interested States from both regions to join us.

[1] Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden.