RELATIONS WITH THE EU
The European Union and Argentina
A strong EU-Argentina partnership is crucial to building a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world.
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 June 2022, and one of its conclusions was that Argentina and the EU agreed to kick-start the process for revising and upgrading their bilateral legal framework.
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 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 concluded negotiations for 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 in goods totalling 16.6 billion euros in 2021.
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 13.6% of total Argentine trade in 2021. In 2021, the value of EU goods exports to Argentina was 8 billion euros, while that of imports from Argentina was 8.6 billion euros.
- Argentina's main exports to the EU are processed agricultural products (38%), chemical products (21%) and fish and seafood (8%) (2021 data).
- The EU exports to Argentina mainly manufactured products, such as machinery and appliances (28%) and chemical products, including pharmaceutical products (29%) (2021 data).
- Trade in services, which was relatively stable until 2019. It was temporarily affected during the COVID pandemic, to later rebound. In 2020, the EU imported services from Argentina worth 1.6 billion euros, while it exported services worth 3.5 billion euros.
Argentina is also an important investment destination for European companies. The stock of investments from the EU was 35.8 billion euros in 2020, making the EU, as a bloc, the first foreign investor in the country. On the other hand, 21 EU Member States have signed agreements for the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments with Argentina. End-2022, the European Investment Bank had a portfolio of loans amounting to € 655 million in Argentina (including loans under preparation).
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 support the global priorities of the Commission: Digital and Green.
The Digital agenda is progressing with Argentina as the country shares EU concerns on an anthropocentric digital revolution and has started engaging on specific issues such as regulations and policies on artificial intelligence and data protection.
On the Green agenda there are various themes the EU is promoting: agricultural sustainability, waste management, fishing practices and territorial planning and forest management. The latter priority is particularly important in the North and more specifically in the Gran Chaco. This massive and relatively unknown 650.000 square km area is the second biodiversity reserve of the Americas (after the Amazon) and offers significant environmental, economic and social challenges and opportunities. Team Europe is gathering almost 30 million euros with contributions by the EU, the EIB and at least 7 EU Member States (and engagement with the EU private sector) to support sustainable development in the area. The region is shared between Argentina (62%), Bolivia and Paraguay.
Taking into account the focus on digital and green issues, 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 2021-2022 celebrated its 18th edition.
A varied cultural programme presented by the cultural offices of the different embassies and various organisations: