EU- CELAC Foreign Ministers meeting “Working together towards growth and stability”
Santiago, January 25th, 2013
Intervention by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Marta Dassù
Many speakers have remarked that the relationship between Europe and Latin America deserves, perhaps more than others, the definition of strategic partnership, due to the intense historical relations between the two sides, their cultural proximity and the many similarities of their socio-economic models. How to develop this partnership and make it more relevant in a changing world is the theme of this Summit. Let me say, as my first remark, that the idea of funding such partnership on a new alliance for sustainable development is, in my view, the correct one. Sustainable development will undoubtedly be the key issue in the post-financial crisis world.
Our bi-regional relationship becomes even more meaningful as global schemes seem to be failing: the Doha Round has been stalled for a long time and the G20 – that has been so effective at the beginning of the great crisis, essentially preventing the meltdown of the global financial system – has since then been struggling to clearly identify its mandate and define its mechanisms.
We both learnt lessons the hard way. Europe has been harshly hit by the financial crisis and, although the worst seem to be over, we are still striving to put our real economy back on track: overall demand remains low and job creation is far too slow for our taste. We are, however, moving forward; we are putting in place new instruments of economic governance, at national and European level, that will produce effects in the medium term and will result in a greater capacity for growth.
I am aware that the severity of the crisis led many to underestimate the European economy’s resilience and, more than that, to overlook the many positive features of the European model, where social and environmental concerns always played a prominent role. Of course, such an economic and social model does not generate impressively fast growth rates but, in the long run, results in a more balanced growth, something that is extremely relevant in a world where sustainable development, as I said at the beginning, is the key issue.
On this basis, I wish to draw your attention on two potential fields of cooperation, respectively in the economic and diplomatic area.
The first working field I would like to suggest concerns the sustainable development model that we want to promote. Development is based not only on a sound relationship between the State and the Market, but also Territory plays an important role. Competition, in fact, takes place not only among the enterprises, but among the environment where they are based as well. If local governments don’t work, development doesn’t work either, especially in the case of SMEs. In Europe, over the years, we acquired a substantial expertise in local development and regional policy, increasing the chances for success of economic clusters based upon SMEs. This experience would be important for Latin America, where only the technological progress of the SMEs will grant a sustainable economic progress.
Adopting this “place- based” approach to development means laying the foundations to introduce knowledge as an added value of production. This virtuous path consisting of knowledge, innovation and competitiveness, must be rooted in specific territorial contexts. This is a lesson that the European Union has translated into its latest regional policies and it represents one of the most important contributions it can offer Latin America.
My second suggestion is to seriously consider acting together in other parts of the world. I have in mind a “triangular diplomacy” in the Arab world and Sub-saharan Africa. The African continent is an indispensable piece in the puzzle of sustainable development, given the combination of vast natural assets, energy resources, large population and political instability. Our experience in the areas of stabilization processes, post-conflict recovery and institution building may offer an important contribution to the development of Africa, even more so if we consider our expertise in applying technology to systems of production, balanced land use, efficient energy consumption, increased agricultural output, food production and distribution. All these issues, by the way, will be at the heart of the Milano Expo in 2015, whose theme will be, most appropriately, “Feeding the planet, energy for life”.
If we succeed, there is no doubt that in the near future we will witness a growing role of the Southern Atlantic regions and countries: the relationship between the Europe and the “Southern Cone” will make the natural, I would say indispensable, complement to the existing North Atlantic axis. While the XX century was the century of the transatlantic relationship, the XXI century could definitely be the century of the “panatlantic” space.
A strong panatlantic relationship would balance, in economic and political terms, the growing weight of the Pacific axis. The Pacific and the Atlantic would then be the two pillars of a new global system, making for a safer and more stable world.