Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in a statement: “Tackling poverty and social cohesion are our main priorities for Latin America now and in the future”. She added, “I am very happy to welcome our Latin American partners to this major conference. This is a unique opportunity to discuss how we can work together to tackle social differences in both regions and to reaffirm our commitment to underpinning Latin American efforts to address major disparities.”
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla, also commented: “No country in the EU or in Latin America is capable of meeting the challenges of globalisation, sustainable development and social cohesion on its own. We must identify new forms of regional cooperation which respect national diversity, yet offer collective support to reform. Latin America is committed to this path, and the European Union can lend its long-standing experience which is based on an integrated strategy to promote growth and employment and on a variety of instruments, ranging from the development of fundamental rights to an ambitious cohesion policy”.
The European Commission will be represented by the Commissioner for External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, who will open the conference, the Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, Vladimír Špidla, the Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel, and the Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquín Almunia. Other speakers will include the President of the European Parliament , Josep Borrell, a number of ministers from Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States, José Miguel Insulza, and the Secretary-General of the Ibero-American Summits, Enrique Iglesias.
The conference will focus on:
* the need for integrated strategies for social cohesion (best practice in EU, Latin American and Caribbean countries);
* the development of cooperation at regional level to support social cohesion;
* mobilising public policy to promote social cohesion;
* mobilising the business community and trade unions;
* how best to promote dialogue and cooperation between the EU and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
To honour its commitment to support social cohesion in Latin America, in 2004 the Commission launched the 30 million euro EUROsociAL programme in the region. Through this five-year programme, the Commission aims to help the countries of Latin America develop and implement social policies that will contribute to reducing the gap between rich and poor. EUROsociAL is intended to strengthen cohesion by building the necessary capacity amongst policy-makers for mainstreaming the social dimension. The programme will focus on health, education, the administration of justice, employment and taxation.
There will be a press conference on EU-Latin American relations in Brussels on 27 March at 12:15 in the Berlaymont. Participants will include Commissioners Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Vladimír Špidla, Ana Teresa Aranda, Mexico’s Minister for Social Development and President of the Latin American/Caribbean Group, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary-General of the OAS, and José Ignacio Salafranca, Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on the Commission communication on a stronger partnership between the European Union and Latin America, presented in December.
Economic and social development builds on policies that involve competitiveness, employment and social cohesion. These integrated policies contribute not only to improving living conditions, but to strengthening democracy and promoting sustainable economic development and the reduction of social inequalities: this means that everyone has the opportunity to participate fully in economic and social life, a crucial advantage at a time of globalisation. These policies must therefore target equal opportunities and access for all to education, health and a decent job; they must also eliminate discrimination. Though first and foremost a matter of national competence, these policies can be enriched through regional and international cooperation and the spread of best practices.
For further information on the conference:
For further information on the Vienna Summit:
For a 7-minute video on social inequality in Latin America (Bolivia in particular), go to: