The EU is committed to making digital cooperation central to its relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean, assisting the economies of both regions to reap the benefits of new technologies while promoting innovation and digitalisation.
Areas of cooperation include connectivity through the BELLA transatlantic fibre-optic cable, high-performance computing, research & innovation, ICT standards, and regulatory cooperation in telecommunications, digital media, online platforms, eCommerce and cybersecurity.
A number of projects on digital cooperation with Latin America were launched under the Partnership Instrument with key partners in the region. These projects include:
- cooperation on personal data protection while promoting free flow of data across international borders (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico and Uruguay with bilateral activities and regional activities).
- cooperation in the field of standardisation and interoperability of ICT services across international borders (Brazil)
- international efforts to build trust and security in cyberspace (Brazil)
The meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) adopted a political declaration in July 2018, which includes the digital economy as one of the main priority areas for cooperation.
Four strategic areas of cooperation at regional level were explored during the first EU-LAC digital cooperation workshop in July 2018. The following ideas for future cooperation were identified:
- telecoms regulation
- eCommerce and online platforms
A second workshop took place in March 2019 to elaborate specific action-oriented roadmaps in the aforementioned areas.
Regulatel, the Forum of Latin America telecoms Regulators, works with the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) to deepen understanding of regulatory issues.
The Commission also participates in the eLAC Ministerial Conferences organised by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), whose long-term vision is to promote ICT as a tool for economic development and social inclusion.
A contract to launch a submarine fibre-optic cable linking Lisbon in Portugal to Fortaleza in Brazil was signed in August 2018. This would connect RedCLARA, the South American research & education network and GEANT, the European research & education network. The cable is expected to be operational in 2021.
A final report on digital cooperation between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean was published in March 2019.
BELLA: A new digital data highway between Europe and Latin America
The BELLA (Building the Europe link to Latin America) project will provide ultra-high speed connectivity through submarine and terrestrial cable to connect Latin America with Europe.
The cable will boost business, scientific and cultural exchanges between the two continents and within Latin America. This paves the way to cooperation in high-performance computing and Earth observation data.
BELLA includes 11 European and Latin American research and education networks from Germany, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Brazil and is led by RedCLARA, the South American research & education network, and GEANT, the pan-European research and education network.
A contract was signed in August 2018 by a group of public stakeholders to form the BELLA consortium and ELLALINK, a private consortium to deploy a submarine fibre-optic cable linking Europe and Brazil. The BELLA consortium was established to take full advantage of the future high-capacity link for the benefit of research and education networks.
The EllaLink transatlantic cable connecting the European and South American continents was inaugurated during the Digital Assembly 2021.
Linking Fortaleza in Brazil with Sines in Portugal, this digital data highway will enable the first direct, high-capacity data connection between the two continents to support research and education data exchange.
The EU and Brazil established a strategic partnership in 2007 where Science & Technology is one of the most active areas. The bilateral agreement was renewed for another five years in 2017.
Ongoing cooperation focuses on cloud computing, high-performance computing and experimental platforms. Further topics to be explored include 5G, cloud and the Internet of Things.
Brazil is a key Latin American partner under the ICT theme Horizon 2020, with several coordinated calls leading to results with high social and industrial impact. Brazil also plays a prominent role in the context of the ongoing trade negotiations with MERCOSUR.
As part of this cooperation framework, a dedicated dialogue takes place yearly between DG CONNECT and Brazil.
Domestically, Mexico has undergone a radical transformation of its telecoms and audio-visual markets following a reform in 2014. This brought the country to a much closer level playing field with the EU digital market. Mexico’s reform has started the deregulation of the market to introduce competition.
Regionally, Mexico is very active together with Colombia in pushing the 'Mercado Digital Regional' — an initiative within the CELAC members and the so-called 'eLAC 2020' process (Digital Agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean).
The EU and Mexico reached an ‘agreement in principle’ in April 2018 on the trade part of a modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement, which will replace a previous agreement between the EU and Mexico from 2000. Besides the revised Free Trade Agreement, the agreement contains an updated political pillar for cooperation on many sectors, including digital economy.
The EU and Mexico have successfully organised two dialogues on digital economy, in Brussels in 2017 and in Mexico City in 2019. Both dialogues reflected on shared values and approaches to common challenges.
Read the blog - The EU and Mexico: taking digital cooperation a step forward
The European Commission has regular annual ICT policy dialogue with the US Department of State, and the Directorate has an ICT Counsellor stationed at the EU Delegation in Washington D.C., since 2010. Read the concluding joint statement of the latest dialogue (July 2020).
For news of EU-US relations see the web pages of the EU Delegation in Washington DC.
Following the first Digital Dialogue between the EU and Canada on 27-28 May 2019 in Ottawa, strong ICT and artificial intelligence (AI) conclusions were a highlight of the subsequent EU-Canada Summit held in July 2019.
Points relevant to ICT and AI in the Canada-EU Summit Joint Declaration of July 17-18 in Montreal included:
- no.19: responding to technological change in a manner that upholds democracy, respects human rights and advances our shared values;
- no.20: deepen our cooperation on artificial intelligence.
Follow-ups with the Canadian ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) and Canadian Heritage on common areas of interest has increased. Progress on artificial intelligence, quantum and public sector innovation has been made, and various joint actions have been undertaken.
The EU and Canada signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement, and its implementation began with the first Joint Ministerial Committee in December 2017. The committee adopted a joint statement and agreed to strengthen EU-Canada bilateral relationship, to enhance foreign policy coordination and to work closer together to address global challenges and opportunities.
A Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was also adopted by the Council and signed at the EU-Canada Summit on 30 October 2016. Provisional application of CETA started on 21 September 2017.
The Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between Canada and the European Union has been in place since 1996 and is not limited in time. The responsibility for the scientific and technical cooperation dialogue lies with the EU–Canada Joint Science and Technology Cooperation Committee, which meets on a regular basis to review progress and provides new directions for cooperation in the fields of science and technology.