Global Gateway: Commissioner Urpilainen visits Ecuador and Panama to strengthen the EU-Latin America and Caribbean partnership


From June 14 to 16, the Commissioner Urpilainen traveled to Ecuador and Panama to strengthen the EU’s close cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean. The Commissioner launched several concrete projects under the EU Global Gateway in both partner countries and discussed recent geopolitical developments and their impacts. The mission saw major advances in digital, climate and people-to-people connectivity, including the launch of the BELLA-T cable in Ecuador, dialogue on the Copernicus regional data center in Panama, the announcement of the Team Europe initiative “A Green Deal for Ecuador” as well as the opening of the Center for European Studies at the University of San Francisco in Quito (USFQ).

Commissioner Urpilainen said: “Under Global Gateway, the EU will strengthen our already strong cooperation and relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean. We have launched important digital, climate, education and people-to-people initiatives in Ecuador and Panama. These will strengthen our partnership with the whole region. In the current geopolitical situation, it is these links that the EU seeks to develop further through its Global Gateway strategy: a people-centred and values-based strategy. Together, we are committed to the same fundamental values. Advancing programs such as BELLA and Copernicus in the region will accelerate the exchanges we have with our partners on both continents, linking research and education institutes and reducing response time during emergencies such as Natural disasters.

In Ecuador, the commissioner Urpilainen met with President Guillermo Lasso and launched with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Juan Carlos Holguín, the partnership within the framework of Global Gateway and the multiannual indicative programming for the country, which foresees an initial support of 40 million euros from the to support climate, trade and good governance initiatives. She also met.

Commissioner Urpilainen and the Panamanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Erika Mouynes. jointly announced a project to “Fostering Water Security and Biodiversity in Panama through Adaptation to Climate Change at the River Basin Level” with an EU contribution worth €2 million. In addition, the EU and Panama jointly announced the launch of a project to support indigenous women’s groups to develop solar energy businesses in the country.

BELLA – Bringing the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean closer together

At San Francisco University in Quito, Jutta Urpilainen inaugurated on Wednesday, June 15 in Ecuador the BELLA-T fiber optic cable, which connects more than 15,000 research and educational institutions in Latin America and Europe. This 34,000 kilometer long digital highway facilitates high performance computing between European and Latin American research and education institutions. The BELLA cable landing brings Ecuador closer to Europe and has connected over 700,000 Ecuadorian users to date. This generated a 20-fold increase in connectivity, intensifying the country’s participation in research, Earth observation and global processes. The BELLA connection in Ecuador has a bandwidth of 100 gigabits per second – the most modern fiber optic cable currently available – to strengthen research and collaboration with our Latin American partners. BELLA also offers direct access to Earth observation data from Copernicus – vital for disaster preparedness or observing marine or protected areas. Rescuers will be able to access this data in minutes, instead of hours as is currently the case.

EU – Latin American and Caribbean Digital Alliance – putting people and values ​​at the center of digital

With the BELLA program as a key element, the EU, Panama and Ecuador are joining forces in the EU-Latin America and Caribbean Digital Alliance, which will be officially launched later this year. Panama, Ecuador and the EU are committed to working side by side to address digital transformation with a focus on people and values ​​at the center. The EU-Latin America and Caribbean partnership is well placed to share a global leadership role in achieving an inclusive and human-centric digital transformation. There is a growing interest and buy-in from the Latin American and Caribbean side of the European model of digital transformation based on human rights.

Opening of the Center for European Studies at San Francisco University in Quito

During her visit to USFQ, Commissioner Urpilainen delivered a speech on the occasion of the inauguration of the new Center for European Studies. Strengthening people-to-people relations between the EU and Ecuador, USFQ is hosting the first Jean Monnet Chair in Latin America, funded by the Erasmus+ program for the next three years. In the new centre, students will be able to deepen their understanding of EU foreign policy, democracy and elections, election support and observation.

Team Europe Initiative: “A Green Deal for Ecuador”

At Guápulo Park in Quito, curator Urpilainen inaugurated the Team European Initiative “Inclusive and sustainable open economy in support of ecological transition” for Ecuador. This initiative will support Ecuador’s transition to a green and climate-resilient economy by helping to develop an institutionalized national framework for ecological transition. This will be achieved through strengthening climate governance and developing a pipeline of green projects to be funded by European institutions; support the green development plans of decentralized government entities, as well as the involvement of civil society. With an EU contribution of €15.5 million, we expect to mobilize more than €500 million in total investments from the public and private sectors.

For more information

BELLA – Building the link between Europe and Latin America

BELLA – Project homepage


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