BUENOS AIRES – Argentina’s foreign minister said Friday that now is the perfect time for reaching the long-delayed accord between the European Union (EU) and the Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur), adding that a pact of this standing will have great significance a world that is now questioning certain long-cherished values.
“Now is the perfect time for us to rise to the occasion and deal with what is going on in the world, while working beyond geographical differences,” Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra said at the opening of the second day of the forum “Argentina-European Union: Opportunities of a New Strategic Relationship,” which winds up Friday in Buenos Aires.
Malcorra, who will step down from her post on June 12 for family reasons, noted that the accord, which has been bogged down in negotiations since 2000, is not just a free trade agreement but also a strategic association between the EU and the bloc founded by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
In that sense, she asked those present, who included business owners and executives, not to view this pact in purely economic terms, but also to value the impact this “long delayed” accord will have on the defense of European and Mercosur values such as democracy, human rights and a respect for institutions.
She said the EU and Mercosur are working “on the idea of strengthening their strategic association” against a background of widespread dissatisfaction reflected in “surprising” election results, particularly in developed countries.
“Now is the time to send a clear message of adherence to those profoundly held values. This clear message has probably no better example than the ties between Mercosur and the EU,” she said.
Malcorra added that, with all that is being questioned in the world, the values defended by Europe and Mercosur will stand stronger than ever if both parties “come politically to an accord, to a very rapid accord.”
“If we agree to a pact that is reasonable for both parties, we will send a message to the world that it is possible to arrive at a shared vision of an integrated world dedicated to the needs of its citizens,” she said.
Malcorra said the negotiations “are intense,” that a previous round of talks was held several weeks ago in Buenos Aires, where the two parties are meeting again, and that the negotiators will hold another round in Brussels sometime in the next six months.