On 17-18 July, leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU) met in Brussels for the third EU-CELAC Summit. Heads of State and Government from both regions reaffirmed their commitment to their long-standing partnership, which is founded on common values and interests as well as solid economic, social, and cultural links. They exchanged on different topics including multilateralism, global peace and security, climate change and sustainable development, trade and investment, digital transformation, justice, security, and health resilience.
A highlight of the Summit was the endorsement of a Joint Declaration on the EU-LAC Digital Alliance by all 27 EU Member States and 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The Joint Declaration sets out a roadmap for bi-regional cooperation on a human-centric digital transformation, where the Global Gateway will act as the motor to implement innovative projects that deliver the EU-LAC Digital Alliance’s objectives.
Participants of the digital round table expressed that the EU-LAC Digital Alliance and its Joint Declaration will “help tackle the threat of an Orwellian model of internet governance and to protect people’s digital rights”. They also announced that the EU-LAC Digital Alliance will foster cooperation on global standards and investment, including the extension of the BELLA cable, the establishment of regional Copernicus data centres in Chile and Panama, the strengthening of the LAC4 Cyber Centre, and the reinforcement of business cooperation through the establishment of the EU-LAC Digital Accelerator.
Fostering public-private dialogue
For the occasion of this Summit, a business round table on digital transition and connectivity was also organised on 17 July. The purpose was to discuss the opportunities and challenges for closer public-private and business-to-business cooperation to improve connectivity.
Some of the outcomes of the roundtable included:
- Participants expressed the urgency of bridging the digital divide in LAC, especially in rural areas. They stressed the enormous potential for growth and job creation that could be unlocked with higher connectivity rates and by bridging the digital divide.
- They warned that the digital transition could have a huge effect on existing inequalities, highlighting the urgent need to improve digital skills and gender equality.
- They suggested lowering spectrum fees for operators, resolving regulatory bottlenecks, and harmonising the frequencies across countries.
- To foster innovation, they called for closer cooperation between banks and development cooperation agencies, as well as governments, operators, and universities/academia.
- Finally, participants called for the establishment of a large alliance among digital companies of various sectors and with the public sector.