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Giving focus to the Cultural, Scientific and Social Dimension of EU – CELAC Relations

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - EULAC Focus (Giving focus to the Cultural, Scientific and Social Dimension of EU – CELAC Relations)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

EULAC Focus analyses the role of the EU as a global actor in its cultural, scientific and social relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The project intends to support the EU’s external relations with LAC, enhancing knowledge on the underpinning concepts and visions on which this partnership is based. It also analyse the conditions for LAC regional integration. The main objective of the project is to “give focus” to the cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU–CELAC/LAC relations (the initial ‘EU-CELAC’ perspective had to be shifted to a broader and looser ‘EU – LAC’ Perspective when the crisis of CELAC was diagnosed). EULAC Focus was conceived as an intrinsically policy-oriented research project, whose main “result” had to be a set of policy recommendations. So, the project has had to deal with a wide and deep set of changes:
- in the global context, not only in the balance of power but, even more fundamentally, in the approach to a multilateral-rules-based governance, contested mainly by the US Trump Administration and defended, at least in the WTO context, by China (an unthinkable development when the project was conceived).
- in the perception of the world, with, in particular, the emergence of a “new paradigm” on development and development cooperation
- internal to each region and mainly in the EU with the emergence of Brexit, another unthinkable process.
- in the setting of bi-regional relations with an interruption of the EU – CELAC Summits process, which has forced the project to abandon the idea of conceiving CELAC as the LAC counterpart of the EU.

These changes have made very difficult EULAC Focus’ task. But they have also strengthened its relevance. Its results, the “Common Vision” and Action Plan, become the first attempt to “rethink” EU – LAC relations in that new context.
During the first period of the project:
- Its general structure was consolidated, and all project activities and deliverables had a specific focus on the key cross-cutting topics: mobility, inequality, diversity and sustainability.
- The thematic work-packages initiated their work and WP6 provided a first analysis of the EU-CELAC institutional framework.
- The project was particularly active in establishing links with stakeholders such as EU Officers, the EU-LAC Foundation and the EU-CELAC Senior Officials Meetings.

The second period focused on the research activities and to provide a foundation for the the common vision and action plan:
- WP 2 continued to work on the Synthesis Report on Cross-cutting Pathways.
- WP 3, 4 and 5 progressed and deepened their analysis of the state of affairs in each dimension.
- WP 6 progressed in the design of the scenarios for EU – LAC relations and continued to work on the development of the new “EULAC Focus Common Vision”.

In the third period, the project has finalized the work in accordance with the Work Plan as modified in the first and second amendments, in spite of the fact of the practically complete interruption of the bi-regional EU – CELAC activities. The postponement of the EU – CELAC Summit of Heads of State and Government. Brexit remained an uncertain and unclear process. And some political developments, both in EU Member States and in LAC, revealed very worrying trends for the too-often repeated “common values”. EULAC Focus requested a three-months extension of the duration of the project in order to be able to cope better with all these uncertainties. The extension was very helpful because it allowed at least to take into account in the Action Plan the designation of the new European Commission and the setting up of new objectives.
- WP 2 has finalized its work on the Synthesis Report on Cross-cutting Pathways and has supervised WPs 3, 4, 5 and 6 work from the perspective of the four cross-cutting issues.
- WP 3, 4 and 5 have finalized their work, generating the expected results in the respective fields and feeding them into the work carried out by WP 6.
- WP 6 has successfully finalized its work on Scenarios (deliverable 6.3) and has been able to put together a Common Vision and Action Plan that has drawn a very favourable attention from EU and LAC officials and policy-makers in the Final Events of the project in November 2019.

In this third period, the project has also followed all the recommendations contained in the Second Period Review, in particular those relating to outreach and sustainability. WP 7, together with WP 1, has revised its approach on exploitation and dissemination. This has allowed also for a validation of some of the main policy recommendations and suggested strategies included in the Action Plan.
"1- The literature review has led to identify two main risks: first, confusing the EU with its Member States; second, ending up suggesting changes in the EU policy towards LAC that, in fact, imply changes in the EU Treaties. In order to avoid these risks, EULAC Focus has developed a new approach that gives a central role to the identification of the “legal basis” for EU’s action as well as to their budgetary framework.
- The Union has no sovereignty (in singular, nor a “general competence”. It only has specific competences, attributed to it by specific provisions of the Treaties: The competence on common foreign and security policy attributed by the Treaty on EU and the 28 competences conferred by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
- EU policies are an edifice assembling two different types of bricks: the legal and the budgetary, so subject to the periodicity of the Multiannual Financial Framework.
2- EULAS Focus has also identified four ""Cross-cutting topics/pathways"" (mobility, inequality, diversity and sustainability) that contribute to a better understanding of EU-LAC relations by allowing
- to identify significant similarities and differences;
- to identify where and in what sense one region can learn from the other;
- to give a more operational meaning to expressions like “strategic partnership”.

3- The “transversal” vision of the EU and its system of external relations and the identification of the 4 cross-cutting issues have allowed a coherent integration of the 3 thematic WPs dimensions achieving a very challenging “matricial” research structure.

Potential Impacts . Because of its content and specific objectives, EULAC Focus socio-economic impact must be indirect, through the effects of its policy recommendations, that directly address relevant areas of economic and social policy. In the economic area, with the following 3 strategies:
- Launching “structuring actions” (Digitalisation for social development, Smart Specialization and Collaboration on regulatory issues).
- Giving an international and a LAC projection to the European Institute for Innovation and Technology and the 8 very ambitious Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs), involving Universities and Research Centres, Industry, Public Administrations and Social actors.
- Cooperation in the area of Creative Industries

In the area of social policies, EULAC Focus recommendations would have a direct impact: the convergence in the approaches to social policy in the EU and its Member States (in the favourable context of CEPAL-ECLAC / OECD / EC-DG DEVCO new approach to development). In this framework, 3 specific areas have been studied:
- Anti-poverty policies with focus on money transfer policies
- Inclusion of migrants:
- Territorial cohesion."