Skip to main content

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

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EULAC Focus (Giving focus to the Cultural, Scientific and Social Dimension of EU – CELAC Relations)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-05-31

EULAC Focus analyses the role of the EU as a global actor in its relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, seeking to critically examine the development of the bi-regional partnership in three key features, namely in cultural, scientific and social aspects.

Thereby, EULAC Focus supports Europe’s role as a global actor and directly contributes to the Union's external relations by providing a thorough analysis of the environment the EU operates in in Latin America and the Caribbean, enhancing knowledge on the underpinning concepts and visions on which this partnership is based. On the other side, the conditions for regional integration in LAC are also analysed throughout the project, providing an overview of the regional agenda and initiatives in cultural, scientific and social integration.

The main objective of the EULAC FOCUS Project is thus to “give focus” to the cultural, scientific and social dimension of EU–CELAC relations. This is undertaken through research to support the development of policy recommendations for the future relations between the EU and LAC regions. The overall focus is threefold:
- Critically examine the past and current initiatives and cooperation schemes in the three thematic fields, identifying lessons learnt, main results and impact
- Identify emerging topics for cooperation, bright spots and low hanging fruits to reinvigorate the bi-regional agenda
- Reach out to stakeholders in the EU-CELAC cooperation area, involving them in the orientation of the project and creating a wide ownership towards the results.
During the first period of the project, focus was on the following issues:
- The general structure of the project was consolidated, and all project activities and deliverables had a specific focus on the four key cross-cutting topics – mobility, inequality, diversity, and sustainability – in order to identify significant similarities and differences between EU and LAC in the cultural, scientific and social dimension of their relations.
- The thematic work-packages (WPs 3, 4 and 5) initiated their work in conformity with the initial work-plan, later modified.
- WP6 provided a first draft analysis of the general EU-CELAC institutional framework, with a general overview of the current conditions, possibilities and limitations of EU-CELAC cooperation, which is crucial for the future project recommendations in relation to activities and actions in the bi-regional framework.
- The project was particularly active, and, in fact, advanced well ahead of schedule in establishing links with stakeholders such as EU Officers, the EULAC Foundation and the EU CELAC Senior Officials Meetings. Particularly relevant was the very close relationship that has been established with the EULAC Foundation, identified in the call as one of the main target institutions for the project.

The second period has built on the foundations laid by the first. Somehow, it has been a period of transition between the first and the final and decisive phase/period of EULAC FOCUS: the third, in which the project will have to produce its proposed Action Plan and Set of Recommendations.
Therefore, during this period, the project has focussed on implementing the various research activities, each of which provide a foundation for development of the common vision and action plan scheduled for development during the final phase of the project. Progress in specific activities and deliverables include that:
- WP 2 has continued to work on the Synthesis Report on Cross-cutting Pathways. Whilst during the first project period, the cross-cutting topics (mobility, inequality, diversity, and sustainability) were mainly addressed for the scientific dimension and, to a lesser extent, the social dimension, during the second project period WP2 focused on the cross-cutting topics regarding the cultural and the social dimensions of EU-CELAC relations. This work during the second period will allow to send to project members in July 2018 a preliminary version of the final report on cross-cutting pathways.
- WP 3, 4 and 5 have progressed and deepened their analysis of the state of affairs in the respective three dimensions and their study of their possible future, always in accordance with the work-plan. In terms of research output, this has been the main result of this second phase.
In accordance with the Work Plan included in the proposal, much of the work in the first year of the project has had to be spent in putting together a very complex Consortium comprising very different types of institutions, initiating the implementation of the different Work Packages and building some sort of “common vision” of the current state of EU – CELAC relations, its historical evolution and how to improve them in the future.

This task has already allowed us to discover the validity of one of the underlying assumption of the EULAC Focus’s proposal: the inability of mainstream literature to give an adequate account of EU – CELAC relations and its unsatisfactory situation, well behind expectations and not in conformity with arguments based on “common values”, “common history” etc.

In addition, from the perspective of the general objectives of the project, two important activities of EULAC FOCUS during the second period and with great relevance for the impact of the project have been: (i) the initial work on Scenarios and (ii) the broadening and deepening of the contacts and relations with stakeholders.

The elaboration of Scenarios for the future of EU – CELAC relations, in general and considering the three dimensions specifically relevant for EULAC FOCUS, is the instrument conceived in the work-plan to achieve a “common vision” of the whole consortium and to frame, in the third period, the conception and the development of the Action Plan and Set of Recommendations. In order to reach this objective, the work had to be organized in two levels and stages: a first, general one for EU-CELAC relations as a whole and a second one including the references to the three dimensions specifically focused by EULAC FOCUS. The work on scenarios has advanced according to schedule and gives a very good foundation for period three and the drafting of the Action Plan.

Furthermore, during period two, the close cooperation with significant stakeholders has continued. First, the continuation of the close association with the EULAC Foundation. This has allowed EULAC FOCUS to strengthen its relation with the two Co-Presidencies of the EU- CELAC Summits and with all Governments of EU and CELAC Member States as well as with the EEAS. EULAC FOCUS played a decisive role in the main event of EU – CELAC relations in 2017: the Academic and Knowledge Summit held in San Salvador (Universidad de El Salvador) in October 2017, in the framework of the Knowledge Week organized by the European Commission. EULAC FOCUS was a very active contributor to the final Declaration, is explicitly recognized in it, and has also been very active in the preparation of the Action Plan approved in its follow-up.

Second, a wider diffusion of EULAC FOCUS activities within the academic community. Conceptually, the main instrument to achieve this is by emphasizing the title of the project: “Giving Focus…”, that has proved nearly self-explanatory and extremely convincing. Instrumentally, the good relationship established with LASA (the Latin American Studies Association) is proving very effective.
Public Discussion Meeting, Berlin, August 2016
Project Team at the Kick Off Meeting, April 2016
Project Team Working Session, Quito, March 2017