On 26 and 27 January, the first summit of heads of state and government from the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will meet in Santiago de Chile, continuing on from the bi-regional summits that have been held since 1999.
Over 80 trade union leaders from the two sides of the Atlantic also met within the same framework at the 6th EU-LAC Trades Union Forum, held in the Chilean capital on 3 and 4 December 2012.
The labour organisations adopted a call to action for the EU-CELAC heads of government, in which they reiterated the need to get rid of neoliberal approaches.
In 2010, the Madrid Declaration of the EU-LAC Summit spoke of promoting "integrated strategies as well as public policies - including social protection and fiscal policies —aimed at eradicating poverty and reducing inequality and social exclusion".
"Over the last three years, however, most governments have done precisely the opposite. Their cuts have led Europe into a recession," said Víctor Báez Mosqueira, general secretary of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA).
"In the vast majority of Latin American countries, there is growth with social exclusion and it would seem that this policy is set to continue."
According to the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Bernadette Ségol, "Today, the policies implemented are have been wrongly labelled as austerity policies, these policies only demand sacrifices from the most vulnerable."
The ETUC, TUCA and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) reiterated their opposition to the bringing into force of the free trade agreements the EU has signed with Colombia and Peru and with Central America, based on their failure to include proposals for balanced and sustainable development.
Finally, the trade unions called on the Summit to reject the forced deposition of the Constitutional President of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, and not to recognise the illegitimate government that has replaced him.
The trade union statement has already been sent to the Chilean government and the European Commission and will be formally presented to the EU-CELAC Summit by leaders of the Chilean trade union confederations CUT and CAT.