The future of development cooperation with Latin America – Report on a development actors’ conference in Brussels

Around a hundred development actors attended a conference on the future of development cooperation with Latin America on 27 March 2012 in Brussels. The conference focused on identifying new trends and challenges in cooperation with Latin American, following numerous statements about consolidation and differentiation between cooperation policy at EU level and within EU Member States, such as Belgium.

At the conference, European Commission (EC) representatives explained the proposals for the EC’s Development Co-operation Instrument (7 December 2012), which aims to radically reform cooperation policy with Latin America for the period 2014–2020. The instrument sets out the content of the EC’s October 2011 Agenda for Change, which proposes a 25% increase in public development aid while reducing cooperation funding for middle income countries and focusing on the issues of governance and inclusive growth. Nineteen countries would be excluded from geographical bilateral cooperation, 11 of which are located in Latin America. According to EC representatives at the conference, only Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay would remain within the scope of the EU’s geographical cooperation. However, they insisted that other cooperation programmes, including regional cooperation on issues such as the common good, civil society and local authorities as well as horizontal instruments such as those promoting stability, democracy and human rights, would nevertheless still be open to all Latin American countries within the framework of EC cooperation.

The reaction of trade union and social organisation representatives attending the conference was unequivocal: in their view, this policy stance takes nowhere near enough account of the fact that 75% of people in poverty live in emerging economies and that a lot of attention must be paid to the issue of inequality, which is still a significant problem in Latin America. “Add to this the continuing problem of racial and sexual discrimination. That is the face of injustice on this continent. Democracies here are fragile and the repression and criminalisation of social movements has not stopped”, emphasised Carlos Molina, director of ICAES, the Central American Institute of Social Studies, who attended the conference. He also underlined the need for coherence between policies on political dialogue, cooperation and trade between regions such as the EU and Central America, for example. He concluded by saying that decent work, i.e. work which fully values worker rights, must take centre stage in international cooperation.

More information about the conference (e.g. PowerPoint presentations, documents) will soon be available at

Article provided by Thomas Miessen, ACV - CSC