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Council Conclusions
Declaration of the XII Ministerial meeting between the Rio Group and the European Union - Luxembourg, 27 May 2005

Date of release : 27-05-2005

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : XIIth Ministerial Meeting EU-Rio Group

1. The twelfth Ministerial meeting of the Rio Group and the European Union was held in Luxembourg on 27 May 2005, under the co presidency of Argentina, for the Rio Group, and Luxembourg for the Council of the European Union. The meeting was chaired by Argentine Foreign Minister, Mr. Rafael Bielsa, and Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Mr Jean Asselborn, President of the EU Council. The European Commission was represented by Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations. Bulgaria and Romania, acceding States to the EU, attended the meeting as active observers.

2. The meeting enabled an appraisal to be made of the development of relations between the two regions, which share common values and a common cultural heritage. The privileged relationship between the two regions allows a common approach to most major international challenges and topics.  

The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the dialogue established by the 1990 Rome Declaration between the Rio Group Permanent Mechanism of Political Consultation and Concertation and the European Union.

The Ministers confirmed the importance of continuing to strengthen the political dialogue between the Rio Group and the European Union in all the appropriate fora, in a mutual beneficiary exchange.

 3. The discussions at this twelfth ministerial meeting focused in particular on the future of relations between the Rio Group and the European Union, regional integration and cooperation, international cooperation with Haiti, the creation of jobs for combating hunger and strengthening democratic governance and preparations for the High-level plenary meeting of the sixtieth session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2005.

4. The Ministers acknowledge with satisfaction progress simultaneously made in the same direction at the Latin American and Caribbean – European Union Summits, in which their countries take also part.  In this context they stressed the importance they attach to making a reality of the commitments made at the meeting of Heads of State and Government in Guadalajara on 28 and 29 May 2004.  They express their confidence in the most valuable contribution the next LAC-EU Summit in Vienna in 2006 shall make to the inter-regional cooperation and dialogue.

5. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to cooperate and to promote dialogue between the two regions in particular to address even better to challenges such as the promotion and strengthening of democracy, human rights, sustainable development, good governance, and social cohesion, by fighting poverty, exclusion and inequality, all of which contribute to build more inclusive societies. They also highlighted the importance they attach to an open and non-discriminatory rules-based multilateral trade system.

The Ministers fully coincided on the importance of the exchange of knowledge and technology transfer and undertook to develop cooperation programs in these areas.

6. The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment to strengthening democratic governance and combating poverty, hunger and exclusion by bringing about conditions conducive to the promotion of decent work and the creation of economic opportunities for the poorest. They accordingly place such promotion and opportunities at the heart of the bi-regional agenda, as it contributes to increasing social cohesion, in particular social inclusion, to fostering economic development and increasing our peoples' standard of living including health and education. They reiterated the importance that they attach to full respect for human rights of all migrants, regardless of their status.

7. The Ministers stressed the positive contributions of the integration processes on each side. Those processes, which contribute to the stability and prosperity of both regions, favour dialogue and consultation between them and enable the values shared by the two regions to be promoted more effectively.  The meeting allowed for information and points of view to be exchanged on progress and recent developments regarding regional integration in the two regions.

The Ministers acknowledged the forming of the South American Community of Nations last year in Cusco, Peru.  The Ministers also underlined the importance of South American Community of Nations’ mechanism to promote political coordination and economic, social and cultural integration, such as promoting their interest in the international fora.

The Ministers underlined the importance of the recent progress made by Central America and the Andean Community in their respective integration processes.

8. The Ministers welcomed the progress made in implementing the Association Agreements between the EU and Mexico and between the EU and Chile, and the latter's entry into force in its entirety from 1 March. 

They also welcomed the holding of the first meetings of the ad hoc joint working parties responsible for undertaking the joint assessment of economic integration in Central America and in the Andean Community, which took place in San José de Costa Rica on 31 March and 1 April and in Lima on 4 and 5 April.  In this regard, both Joint Committees should examine the results of the Joint Assessment before the end of 2005.

They took note of the progress of negotiations for an association agreement between Mercosur and the EU who reaffirmed at their meeting on 26 May 2005 the will to reach a balanced and successful conclusion.

The Ministers recognised the importance of the negotiations on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the countries of the Caribbean and the European Union and welcomed the launch of those negotiations in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement.  They await their successful conclusion and stress that the EPA must be an effective instrument for sustainable development.

9. The Ministers assessed the situation in Haiti. They welcomed the efforts being made by the international community, particularly by way of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), in which various countries from both regions are participating, which they saw as an effective display of multilateralism.  They reaffirmed their wish to have MINUSTAH's mandate, renewed for at least another 12 months.  They also highlighted the role played by the OAS in consolidating the country's institutions.

The Ministers pointed out that the restoration of peace through dialogue and political reconciliation, security, social and economic reconstruction of Haiti are shared challenges and  priority concerns. To that end, they agreed on the need to ensure comprehensive long-term aid for Haiti to enable Haitian people to define their political future in peace, with the participation of all political forces in a violence-free framework and within a full and inclusive democratic system which can guarantee that the institutions rapidly return to normality. In this regard, the Ministers reaffirmed the need to work with the transitional government in meeting the electoral timetable and holding free and fair elections, in order to consolidate the basis for restoring the country to full democracy.

The Ministers unanimously recognised the pressing need for the resources pledged for Haiti by the international community to be made available promptly and for the various contributions pledged by international financial institutions to be disbursed. 

The Ministers welcomed the result of the Ministerial meeting held in Cayenne, French Guyana. At the meeting an important number of concrete projects were launched with the purpose of having a direct and immediate impact on meeting the Haitian people's most urgent humanitarian and development needs.

10. The Ministers devoted a major part of their discussions to preparation of the UN Summit in September 2005, on the basis in particular of the report of 21 March 2005 from the Secretary﷓General of the UN entitled "In larger freedom", which represents a prime contribution to the preparation of the September Summit.

The Ministers welcomed the comprehensive and coherent nature of the report and of the strategies proposed and endorsed the Secretary General's analysis that "we will not enjoy development without security, security without development and either of them without respect for human rights". The Ministers agreed that, given these interconnections, it is essential to advance the causes of all three issues: human rights, security and development. They reaffirmed their determination to contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and furthermore they stressed the necessity of a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its principal organs, i.a. the General Assembly, the Security Council and the ECOSOC, with a view to strengthening and enhancing the representativeness, transparency and effectiveness of the UN system, and the Commission on Human Rights. The Ministers welcomed the fact that important initiatives are currently under discussion regarding the strengthening of the international system for the promotion and protection of human rights. They also took note of other valuable initiatives in the area of Peace-building.

11. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to the promotion and protection of all human rights. They reaffirmed their determination to combat all threats to the full enjoyment of all human rights and to take the necessary measures to promote democratic, participatory, equitable, tolerant and inclusive society. They welcomed their cooperation at the recent 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

12. In the run﷓up to the New York Summit, which, inter alia, is to evaluate progress since 2000, particularly as regards attaining the objectives of the Millennium Declaration, the Ministers emphasised the vital importance of 2005 for development and reiterated the commitments they made at the Millennium Summit as well as at the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey in 2002 and at the World Summit on Sustainable Development that took place in Johannesburg in 2002. They recognised that concerted, collective action would be necessary in terms of development, human rights, security and the rule of law to achieve the Millennium Goals as planned by the end of 2015.  The Ministers affirmed that the fight against poverty and inequality would be at the centre of their efforts.

13. The Ministers stressed that sustainable development, based on economic, social justice and environmental aspects, is an important mean of promoting peace and stability and of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. They recognised the responsibility of each country for its own development, i.a. through improving governance, fighting corruption in the public and private-sectors, combating organised crime, investing in infrastructure, and implementing measures to stimulate private-sector-led growth with a view to reinforcing national development strategies. They also recognised that a broader cooperation is essential.

In the same sense, the fulfilment of the commitments in the Doha Development Agenda will also make a crucial contribution to economic growth and sustainable development through further trade liberalisation, stronger multilateral rules and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

The Ministers recognised that the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals requires the mobilisation of additional resources.

In this regard, the EU and the Rio Group welcomed the progress made in jointly examining suggestions on the use of innovative sources of funding, including the initiative against hunger and poverty, the international finance facility, global tax mechanisms and debt relief, options which they considered were worth exploring. The Ministers emphasised that funds raised through these innovative financing mechanisms should complement traditional resources for development, such as official development aid.

The Ministers highlighted that development is a basic foundation for peace and security and emphasised that increased ODA is urgently needed to achieve the MDGs. They warmly welcomed the decision reached by the EU at the Council of 24 May 2005 whereby the EU agreed to a new collective EU target of 0,56% ODA/GNI by 2010, that would result in additional annual € 20bn ODA by that time, as well as to undertake to reach the UN target for ODA of 0,7% in line with the commitment made in the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, and the decisions taken by the Council of 24 May 2005.

 They reaffirmed the importance of cooperation with middle-income countries, i.a. with a view to supporting national efforts to remove inequalities in the distribution of wealth and to combat poverty.

14. The Ministers reiterated their strong support for multilateralism as the most effective way to respond to the threats and challenges facing the international community and they stressed the central role of the United Nations in this domain.

The Ministers recognised that cooperation among States is fundamental when facing challenges and threats to the international community.  They recalled that the scourge of terrorism, whatever might be the origin or motivation, poses a threat to peace and security and noted the importance of reaching a common definition of terrorism and of completing the negotiation of a global international convention on terrorism, as proposed by the United Nations Secretary-General.  They also recalled the obligation to prevent and sanction those who finance, plan, support or commit terrorist acts and the obligation of states to prevent their territories being used to finance, plan and facilitate the carrying out of those acts.

The Ministers also considered that progress in non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, arms control and disarmament is a main objective of the international community.

15. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to comply fully with the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and to promote its universalisation; and expressed their intention to implement the 2005-2009 Nairobi Action Plan. They also condemned the use and manufacture of mines by non-State actors.

16. The Ministers reiterated their commitment to the fight against illicit traffic of Small Arms and Light Weapons. In this regard they confirm their commitment to promote the effective implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.

17. The Ministers reaffirmed the principle of shared responsibility as a basic tenet in the fight against the world-wide problem of drugs. Therefore, they expressed the hope that regular exchange of opinions between the two regions, in the field of the Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism against Drugs between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean will continue and lead to intensify efforts in the fight against drugs. To this regard, they look forward to the forthcoming VII High Level Meeting of this Mechanism in Lima, Peru, in June 2005.

18. Taking into account that corruption and impunity undermine the legitimacy of public institutions, the Ministers expressed support for national, regional and international efforts in eradicating corruption. In that context they expressed their commitment to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption, so that it can enter into force rapidly.

19. Regarding the fight against Transnational Organised Crime, the Ministers reiterated the importance of signing, ratifying or acceding to the related UN Convention and its additional protocols, and of strengthening international cooperation, i.a., regarding trafficking in persons.

20. Lastly, the parties stressed the need for increased coherence and cooperation at regional and national levels, as well as between the United Nations and regional organisations. The Ministers agreed to remain involved in the process leading to the Vienna Summit, which should  receive the necessary impulses at the political level.

21. The Ministers expressed their deep gratitude to the Government and people of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for their warm hospitality and the excellent organisation, which contributed to making this ministerial meeting between the European Union and the Group of Rio a complete success.

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