Brussels, 23 April 2002
The European Commission has approved a series of initiatives to strengthen regional cooperation with Latin America, including a programme to enable Latin American researchers to work and study in European universities.
The Alban programme, to be launched officially by External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten in Madrid on 16 May, will provide study awards for 3,900 Latin American students and researchers to come to Europe. The programme will run until 2010, with a budget of 45 million euro for the first phase (2002 to 2005) and 43 million euro for the second phase (up to 2010).
Access to European universities through the programme will promote the modernisation of Latin America's political, economic, social, educational and cultural structures, says the Commission.
Mr Patten, who described the strategy for regional cooperation as 'ambitious,' said it is 'a visible expression of the strengthening of the bi-regional partnership as initiated at the European Union/Latin America summit in Rio in 1999.'
'It is also one of the responses by the European Commission for helping the Latin American countries to face up to the double challenge of economic transformation which will make their economies more competitive while at the same time ensuring the stability of the democratic institutions and the modernisation of government administration,' he added.
The Commission's new strategy will also see the launch of '@lis,' a programme which, with a budget of 67.5 million euro, aims to promote the information society in Latin America. @lis will be launched by Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen in Seville on 26 April.
Existing programmes are continuing to build relations between the EU and Latin America. These include ATLAS, which supports relations between chambers of commerce in the two regions, AL-Invest, which promotes trade and investment by facilitating meetings between small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the EU and Latin America and ALFA, which aims to build cooperation between universities.