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At the IDB, we believe that together we can go farther. Our partnership network is making positive differences in Latin America and the Caribbean every day, and this blog is our channel for telling that story. Stay tuned for literature on partnership perspectives, stories from the field, changing trends, outlooks for development and the region, information on ways and opportunities to partner, and more. Thanks for stopping by.

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From Across the Pond: A Key Transatlantic Partner for LAC

By - May 1 2014

EU flag

From Edith Piaf, to cycling through Amsterdam, to devouring Belgian chocolates, Europe, for many, invokes thoughts of momentous landmarks, exquisite cuisines and rich culture. To Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), however, Europe is much, much more. A longstanding partner, crucial source of development financing and a fountain of development expertise and innovation, this year’s upcoming Europe Day gives us one more reason to thank our friends across the Atlantic for their commitment to improving lives across our region. 

A descendent of the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, the European Union (EU) has been a global force since its inception 21 years ago. Their contributions to LAC in such diverse areas as fiscal management, public sector efficiency, renewable energy, climate change management, private sector development, citizen security, and more, have been nothing short of transformative for our member countries.

To highlight our collaboration, we give the floor to Jolita Butkeviciene, EuropeAid Director for Latin America and Caribbean, DG Development and Cooperation, who kindly agreed to an interview about her organization’s relationship with the region.

  1. The EU and the IDB are partnering on an increasing number of projects in the region. How do you see this relationship developing in the near future and why?

The EU and the IDB have been working very closely and we are looking forward to continuing to enhance this partnership.

In addition to the Memorandum of Understanding existing between the two institutions, we are currently negotiating a Framework Agreement to enhance the operationalization of operations.

Over the past decade, the EU has also supported the region’s successful efforts to reduce poverty and social inequality by providing €2.7 billion in development assistance under the previous Development Cooperation Instrument for Latin America 2007-13 (€556 millions).

The European Parliament recently approved the new budget for 2014-2020.  We are currently preparing the regional and country cooperation for the next 7 years. We look forward to further improve our cooperation with the IDB in critical issues such as poverty reduction, climate change and citizen security.


  1. The European Commission is one of the IDB’s most important public sector partners. In these years of working together, what endeavor stands out as particularly remarkable?

The IDB has 15 member countries that are likewise members of the EU. Together we form a unique partnership to promote the development and sustainability of the region.

The European Commission created the Latin American Investment Facility (LAIF) back in 2010 and most recently, in 2013, the Caribbean Investment Facility (CIF).  Both aim to mix grants with loans of multilateral –such as the EIB- or bilateral public European Development Finance Institutions –for example AECID in Spain, AFD in France, KfW in Germany amongst others- and regional Latin American Banks.

To date, the IDB is actively participating in half of the projects approved in LAIF.  Just last year, the IDB leveraged €13 million in grants for projects in the region.   To highlight a few these funds will develop the Transmission Line in Yacyreta in Paraguay with the EIB, and the expansion and improvement of water supply and sewage in Lima Metropolitan Area in Peru with KfW.

As for CIF, we are working with the IDB in two grants from the EC totaling €30 million along with two IDB operations for the same amount to be used for the Power Utility Upgrade Program and a Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Improvement in Guyana. We also look forward to working in the rural energy sector in Suriname and promoting the use of renewable energy in the Eastern Caribbean.

Additionally, we are co-financing with the IDB €38 million grants in diverse projects in Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Panama.

  1. How has the EU’s work in LAC impacted the region for the better? What benefit has the EU derived from making this positive impact a hemisphere away?

According to a survey recently published by the EC, even in the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades 83% of Europeans still believed that the European Union should actively assist development because they consider it “good” for themselves.

Along that line the EU and the Latin American region have been strengthening and consolidating their links since the 1960s. The EU is an important economic and political partner for Latin America: it is the leading donor in the region, second foreign investor, and second most important trade partner.

The pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is a global commitment and a shared responsibility assumed by all countries. The eradication of poverty is at the heart of the development policy of the EU, the world’s largest donor of development aid. The EU is committed to assist partner countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in their individual plans to achieve the MDGs, where significant progress has been made, especially regarding access to primary education. However, much more needs to be done in order to reduce inequalities as well as in infrastructures, access to drinking water or vulnerability to infectious diseases.

This is the reason why in Latin America the EU focuses on social cohesion and regional integration, the improvement of good governance and the reinforcement of public institutions, the development of a common EU-Latin America higher education area, and the promotion of sustainable development. High quality assistance and sustainable results are the stepping stones to long-term partnerships between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean, based on mutual trust, goodwill and respect.

We look forward to working closely with our Latin American and Caribbean partners, to which we are linked by profound historical, cultural and economic ties.

For more on the IDB-EU partnership, flip through our 2013 Partnership Report.

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