Argentina and the European Union (EU) develop their bilateral relations within the framework of the Framework Agreement for Economic and Trade Cooperation of 1990, which establishes the basis for cooperation in foreign trade, economy, agriculture and industry.
Under this framework agreement, specific co-operation agreements have been reached on fisheries (1993), peaceful uses of nuclear energy (1997) and scientific and technological co-operation (1999), which have guided the bilateral relations.
The Joint Commission charged with overseeing the agreement and promoting the relationship has also fostered sectoral policy dialogue, which has focused on regional development, energy, digitalisation, macroeconomic issues, human rights and international cooperation, among other topics. The Joint Commission last met in November 2020.
As a member country of the Mercosur trading bloc, bilateral relations between Argentina and the EU are also subject to the 1995 EU-Mercosur Interregional Framework Cooperation Agreement, which promotes growth and diversification of trade and lays the foundations for the future creation of an interregional political and economic association based on three key issues:
- Strengthening political dialogue.
- Liberalising trade in a progressive and reciprocal manner.
- Fostering regional cooperation.
Relations between the EU and Mercosur are expected to be boosted once the agreement between the two blocs enters into force. In addition to the co-trade part, for which negotiations were finalised in June 2019, the Agreement will contain a political/cooperation part that will strengthen cooperation and dialogue on a wide range of issues, including environment and climate change, consumer protection and migration.
Bilateral economic relations between the EU and Argentina are governed by the Framework Agreement for Trade and Economic Cooperation, which entered into force in 1990.
These economic relations between Argentina and the EU have been deepened since then through sectoral dialogues on economic and financial issues, information society, energy and satellite navigation, carried out by the Joint Commission.
As a member of Mercosur, Argentina is also part of the EU-Mercosur Framework Cooperation Agreement signed in 1995, which includes provisions on trade cooperation. Current trade relations between the EU and Mercosur are based on an Interregional Cooperation Framework Agreement that entered into force in 1999.
In 2019, the EU has concluded a trade agreement with the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) as part of a bi-regional Association Agreement. The agreement still requires ratification by both parties before entering into force.
The EU has a thriving trade relationship with Argentina, with trade exceeding €14.3 billion in 2019.
These are some of the data that support this relationship:
- The EU is Argentina's third largest trading partner (after Brazil and China) and accounted for 14.1% of total Argentine trade in 2019. In 2019, the value of EU goods exports to Argentina was practically the same as that of EU imports from Argentina.
- Argentina's main exports to the EU are agricultural products (58%), chemical products [petrol derivatives] (15%) and non-fuel raw materials (12%) (2019 data).
- The EU exports to Argentina mainly manufactured products, such as machinery and transport equipment (44%) and chemical products, including pharmaceutical products (24%) (2019 data).
- Trade in services remained fairly stable between 2016 and 2018. In 2018, the EU imported services from Argentina worth 2.2 billion euros, while it exported services worth 5.3 billion euros.
Argentina is also an important investment destination for European companies. The stock of investments from the EU was 37.9 billion euros in 2019. On the other hand, 21 EU Member States have signed agreements for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments with Argentina.
Cooperation between the European Union and Argentina
Relations between the European Union (EU) and Argentina face common challenges to achieve more inclusive, just and sustainable societies. The EU is currently promoting cooperation relations with Argentina through technical assistance, exchange of experiences and networking. In the framework of the economic cooperation agreement (1990) and the scientific cooperation agreement (1999), the EU and Argentina have been developing exchanges and cooperation involving many branches of government (national, provincial and municipal), as well as the private sector and civil society throughout the country.
Currently, the EU's external cooperation priorities for the period 2021-2027 are based on the strategy of the new commission called the European Green Pact. The European Green Pact is our roadmap for making the European Union a sustainable economy. Achieving this goal will require us to transform climate and environmental challenges into opportunities in all policy areas and to achieve a just and inclusive transition for all. The focus of current and future EU initiatives in Argentina reflect the priorities of the Green Pact on issues such as digitalisation, the rule of law, human rights, climate change, gender, development and social, economic and environmental justice, among others.
The main axes of work and collaboration between the European Union and Argentina are:
- Climate change, environment, and energy: support for the fight against climate change in accordance with the commitments made in the Paris Agreement and the promotion of sustainable development.
- Social cohesion: the EU supports social reforms (e.g. labour rights) that aim to improve social cohesion, reduce inequality, and integrate refugees and migrants into society.
- Gender equality: women's economic empowerment, combating gender-based violence, promoting women's leadership in their communities.
- University and scientific cooperation: Joint scientific research by Argentinean and European centres, training, career development, international mobility and academic cooperation between Argentinean and European universities.
- Justice and security: cooperation through exchanges of experts also addressing current issues such as administrative transparency and digitalisation.
- Economic, trade and investment cooperation: competitiveness of the private sector, especially (IM)SMEs, corporate social responsibility, loans and grants to mobilise domestic and foreign investments, civil aviation, intellectual property, data protection.
- Human rights and strengthening of civil society: the EU funds Argentinean civil society projects with the aim of promoting human rights and the participation of organisations in the definition of public policies.
The close cultural ties that, for historical reasons, the EU Member States maintain with Argentina are reflected in an active cultural promotion policy that contributes to consolidating cultural and trade relations between Europe and Argentina.
These policies include:
- Promoting academic relations between higher education institutions, through the Erasmus+ programme and presenting universities at EuroPosgrados fairs.
- Promoting the European film industry, through the European Film Encounter which in 2020-2021 celebrated its 17th edition.
- The celebration of Europe Day (9 May), highlighting European culture, e.g. orchestras and musicians as was done in 2018 and 2019 at the CCK cultural centre in Buenos Aires.
A varied cultural programme presented by the cultural offices of the different embassies and various organisations: