The European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation has organised the international seminar “The Caribbean-European Union synergy: What challenges and opportunities?” along with the Interdisciplinary Institute for the Relations Between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean (IRELAC) and under the auspices of the Directorate for Americas of the Belgian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The aim of this seminar, celebrated at the Egmont Palace in Brussels, is to draw attention on the challenges and opportunities which the Caribbean region has to face in relation to economic, energetic, and climatic aspects as well as to the importance of the cooperative approach among the Caribbean States and with the European Union’s partners.

It is an opportunity to tackle aspects of the Caribbean region and improve diplomatic and academic ties between the EU and the Caribbean with the identification of first operative steps to take in the bi-regional partnership. It is, furthermore, organised at a crucial moment when negotiations on the new Association Agreement between the European Union and the ACP countries (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) have just began.

With this seminar, which has had the support of AVANTE Extremadura, Alimentos de Extremadura (Foods from Extremadura) and the Extremaduran Office in Brussels in its organisation and where diplomats, political decision makers and representatives of the academic world will attend, Yuste Foundation keeps fulfilling its aim to create meeting and study forums and analyse the interests and common challenges that we share on both sides of the Atlantic.

On this occasion the organisers of the event deemed it necessary and urgent to draw attention to the Caribbean region and the numerous challenges it should face to guarantee the macroeconomic as well as the environmental sustainability.

This region deserves more attention, not just due to its historical ties with Europe, but mainly because it is exposed to systematic accumulating threats that are emblematic as far as the global challenges that the world and the EU are condemned to face in the near future is concerned.

The Caribbean is a crossroad between two hemispheres and a cultural and geographical mosaic of 38 territories in the broadest sense of the term. The Caribbean islands cover 30 territories (13 sovereign states and 17 dependent territories) of more than 240.000 km2 with a population of 44 million inhabitants and it is a region in the world where four official languages are spoken: English, French, Spanish and Dutch, apart from other indigenous languages, such as Creole or Papiamento.

In this event the Director of the Belgian Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alain Van Gucht; the President of IRELAC, Christian Ghymers; the Ambassador of Barbados in Belgium and the European Union and President of CARIFORUM, Joy Ann Skinner; the First Secretary of the Embassy of Suriname in Belgium, Milto Castelen; the Director of External Relations of the SEGIB and member of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation’s Board of Trustees, María Salvadora Ortiz; the Deputy Head of the Division for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean in the European Service of External Action, Fernando Ponz Cantó; the Diplomatic Councillor responsible for the relations with Latin America at the Spanish Embassy in the European Union, Rafael Reig Sánchez-Tembleque, participated, among others.

The Chargé d’Affaires and Mission Chief of the Eastern Caribbean States, Sharlene Jo-Ann Shillingford-Mc Klmon; the Gent University Professor and Researcher on climatic change in the Caribbean, Philipp de Maeyer; Assistant to the Director – Latin America and Caribbean at European Commission and expert on the Caribbean, Caroline Adriaensen; the Vice President of the Institut des Ameriques and Professor at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, Carlos Quenan; Eduardo Estévez Martín and the delegate of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation in Brussel, Miguel Ángel Martín, have also participated.


During the celebration of this seminar, a posthumous tribute was payed to Viktor Sukup, former civil servant of the European Commission, researcher at IRELAC and expert on issues concerning the Caribbean, who unexpectedly died in 2016.

The European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation published, in its Collection “Pensamiento Iberoamericano”, El Caribe frente a los desafíos del futuro, Sukup’s posthumous work, where he examines history and the reality of the Caribbean region as well as the multiplicity of its people and cultures.