The question of energy has dominated the EU-Latin American Summit in Austria, although the objective is to cover far wider issues
The European Union-Latin America Summit in Austria provides a telling mirror-image of this emerging continent which moves more freely now that the majority of its nations have more autonomy and independence from Washington. The question of energy and the approach towards managing resources is central to any negotiations.
Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, stated that “For over 500 years, our resources have been pillaged. This has to end now”. Calling for “partners, not bosses” the recently-elected Bolivian President explained his move to nationalise the country’s gas resources. Venezuela also favours a greater intervention of the State in the energy sector, with Caracas planning a new energy tax on oil companies.
On the other hand, countries such as Chile and Colombia favour a more market-oriented approach. The European Union therefore has requested the Latin American nations to choose a common policy. The President of the EU Commission Jose Manuel Barrosostated that “If we want to fully develop the potential of our partnership we also need to know what is your strategic vision”, addressing the Latin Amwerican leaders at the start of talks today in Vienna.
The issues under discussion however are far more wide-reaching than the energy sector and during this summit the questions tabled range from international terrorism to drug trafficking to poverty reduction programmes, climate change and trade reform programmes at the World Trade Organization.