Panama hosts the first EU-Central America cooperation summit

On June 1st and 2nd, 2022, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama together with the EU-LAC Foundation hosted the EU-Central America Dialogue Sessions in Panama City. The two-day event also marked the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the first region-to-region agreement co-signed by the EU and Central America, the EU-Central America Association Agreement. 

Erika Mouynes, Minister of Foreign Affairs, inaugurated the session by emphasizing that Panama is at the heart of international efforts to prioritize a robust post-pandemic recovery while reinforcing the need for dialogue between the two regions to ensure development continues to the benefit of both populations. ‘’We are strategic allies, the European Union (EU) and Central America, and at this time it is key to work together,’’ Mouynes said. 

These Dialogue Sessions served as a platform for renewed political and technical dialogue, jointly addressing outstanding development challenges in the framework of a sustainable, post-pandemic world.  President of the EU-LAC Foundation, Leire Pajín, highlighted that ‘’one of the objectives of this dialogue is precisely to find those elements that can be improved and to push for progress on this agreement.’’ 

Panelists at the event included policymakers from Central American and EU countries including civil servants from different ministries, parliamentarians, and embassy representatives, like María Inés Castillo, Minister of Social Development in Panamá, and Chris Hoornaert, Ambassador of the EU in Panamá. In addition, the conference welcomed numerous representatives from international and multilateral organizations, including UN agencies, the OECD, and the European Investment Bank, among others.  

Sessions revolved around a wide array of topics, ranging from the EU-Central American relations to future cooperation between both regions. The discussions addressed various ways forward in exchanging know-how on risk reduction and preparing for upcoming pandemics and natural disasters, likely to be intensified by climate change.  

The EU serves as the main partner for Central America and the Caribbean in the green transition, including risk prevention. Valuable initiatives are underway that can be leveraged to improve cooperation, such as the Disaster Risk Reduction projects of the EUROCLIMA+ Programme or the newly agreed Project Copernicus. Further elaborating on the latest, Signe Ratso, Deputy Director-General for Research and innovation (DG-RTD) at the European Commission, announced that the EU is ready to face climate change and help countries all over the world, notably in Central America where there are shared climate priorities such as protecting oceans, forests, and biodiversity.