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International Partnerships
News announcement17 June 2022Directorate-General for International Partnerships4 min read

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

Visit of Jutta Urilainen, European Commissioner, to Ecuador

Between 14-16 June, Commissioner Urpilainen visited Ecuador and Panama to reinforce the EU’s strong cooperation with  Latin America and the Caribbean. The Commissioner launched several concrete projects under the EU’s Global Gateway in both partner countries and discussed recent geopolitical developments and their impacts. The mission saw key advances in digital, climate and people-to-people connectivity notably through the launch of the BELLA-T cable in Ecuador, dialogue on the Copernicus regional data centre in Panama, the announcement of the Team Europe Initiative ‘A Green Deal for Ecuador’ as well as the opening of the Centre for European Studies at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).

Commissioner Urpilainen said: “Under Global Gateway, the EU will reinforce with Latin America and the Caribbean our already strong cooperation and relationship. We launched important initiatives in digital, climate, education and people-to-people contacts in Ecuador and Panama. These will strengthen our partnership with the whole region. In the current geopolitical situation, these are the links that the EU is seeking to further develop through our Global Gateway strategy: one that is human-centred and value-based. Together, we are committed to the same core values. Advancing on Programmes such as BELLA and Copernicus in the region will accelerate the exchange we have with our partners across both continents, connecting research and education institutes as well as reducing response time during emergencies such as natural disasters.

In Ecuador, Commissioner Urpilainen met President Guillermo Lasso and launched together with Minister for Foreign Affairs, Juan Carlos Holguín the partnership under Global Gateway and the multiannual indicative programming for the country, that foresees an initial €40 million support from the EU to support climate, trade and good governance initiatives. She also met.

Commissioner Urpilainen and Panamanian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Erika Mouynes. jointly announced a project for “Fostering water security and biodiversity in Panama through climate change adaptation at the water basin level” with an EU contribution worth €2 million. In addition, the EU and Panama together announced the launch of a project for supporting indigenous women groups to develop enterprises in solar energy in the country.


BELLA - Bringing the EU, Latin America and the Caribbean closer

At the Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Jutta Urpilainen inaugurated on Wednesday 15 June in Ecuador the BELLA-T fibre optic cable, which connects more than 15,000 research and education institutions of Latin America and Europe together. This 34 000-kilometer long digital highway facilitates high performance computing between European and Latin American research and education institutions. The landing of the BELLA cable brings Ecuador closer to Europe and has connected more than 700 000 Ecuadorean users to date. This has generated a 20-fold increase in connectivity, stepping-up 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 fibre optic cable currently available – to strengthen research and collaboration with our Latin American partners. BELLA also offers direct access to Copernicus Earth Observation data – vital for disaster preparedness, or the observation of marine or protected areas. Emergency workers will be able to access this data in a matter of minutes, instead of hours as is the case now.


EU - Latin American and Caribbean Digital Alliance – putting human beings and values at the centre of digital

With the BELLA programme as a key component, the EU, Panama and Ecuador are joining forces within the EU-Latin American 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 the digital transformation with a focus on human beings and values at the centre. The EU - Latin American and Caribbean partnership is well placed to share a global leadership role on achieving an inclusive and human centred digital transformation. There is increasing interest and adherence on the Latin American and Caribbean side to the EU model of a digital transformation based on human rights.


Opening of the Centre of European Studies at Universidad San Francisco de Quito

During her visit to USFQ, Commissioner Urpilainen addressed the inauguration of the new Centre of European Studies. Through boosting people-to-people connections between the EU and Ecuador, the USFQ hosts the first Jean Monnet Chair in Latin America, financed through the Erasmus + programme for the next three years.  At the new Centre, students will be able to deepen their understanding of EU foreign policy, democracy and elections, electoral support and observation.


Team Europe Initiative: ‘A Green Deal For Ecuador’

At the Guápulo Park in Quito, Commissioner Urpilainen inaugurated the Team European Initiative “Inclusive and sustainable open economy in support of the ecological transition” for Ecuador. This initiative will support Ecuador´s transition towards a green and climate-resilient economy by helping develop an institutionalised national framework for the Ecological Transition. This will be achieved through strengthening climate governance and developing a pipeline of green projects to be funded by European Institutions; supporting decentralised government entities green development plans, as well as involving civil society. With an EU contribution €15.5 million, we expect to leverage over €500 million in total investments from the public and private sector. 

For More Information

BELLA – Building the Europe Link to Latin America

BELLA – Project homepage


Publication date
17 June 2022
Directorate-General for International Partnerships