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On 18 May, as a concluding component of the VI European Union-Latin America and Caribbean (EU-LAC) Summit held in Madrid, the participant stakeholders unveiled the EU-LAC Action Plan 2010-2012. The action plan outlines an agenda for cooperative engagement across six main areas—ranging from migration, the world drug problem, and sustainable development, to environmental protection, regional integration, and social inclusion. Topping the list of action items aimed at addressing this complex intersection of challenges and aspirations is a commitment to focus on science, research, innovation, and technology in direct support of the central objective of developing the “EU-LAC Knowledge Area”.
To achieve this ambitious goal, the action plan envisions ongoing dialogue and cooperative activities, including the launch of a new mechanism, the “EU-LAC Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation”. The establishment or strengthening of thematic networks on mutually agreed-upon areas of interest is expected stimulate “exchanges between EU-LAC universities and research centres,” among others, while a “road map” for the Joint Initiative should enable appropriate goal-setting and tracking of progress. Promoting sustainable development and social inclusion is the ultimate goal of this work.
The Madrid Declaration—issued at the end of the VI EU-LAC Summit by the Heads of State and Government of the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean, the President of the European Council and the President of the Commission—fully endorsed the idea of the development and implementation of the EU-LAC Joint Initiative for Research and Innovation. Clearly, much work lies ahead in terms of implementation and realizing concrete outcomes from these preliminary agenda-setting steps.