It is not just the 45 leaders attending the Fifth EU/Latin America Summit in Lima this Friday who have an ambitious agenda. A simultaneous 'People's Summit' by labour and indigenous activists may draw up to 20,000 anti-globalisation protesters.
The substantive achievements of the previous four EU/LA summits held since 1999 have been unremarkable, and the ambitious agenda this year -- including climate change, energy, poverty, inequality and sustainable development -- may well produce little more than a final statement, although it represents an opportunity for high-level bilateral talks on the margins of the main event.
The talks will not all be friendly. This year's summit, like the 2006 meeting in Vienna, is likely to be marked by regional divisions between Venezuela and Colombia in particular, as well as within Mercosur -- and possibly by more verbal jousting between Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and the Spanish and German heads of state. Argentine relations with both of these countries are also cooling in the wake of recent pressures on Spanish investors to sell company stakes to Argentine interests, and the failure to progress on the renegotiation of Paris Club debt. Chavez has suggested he may not even attend the summit, which in itself would represent a sharp break with his usual high profile at such occasions and could point to a weakening of his domestic and regional position.
The host, Peruvian President Alan Garcia, has his own agenda. He will try to advance a free-trade accord with the EU and highlight the attractiveness of Peru as an investment destination. He will also be hoping that the People's Summit, which will be heavily policed, does not spill over into the violence seen at other summits -- or provide too visible a focus for popular dissatisfaction with his government, whose achievements on the economic growth front have yet to be matched by poverty reduction and job creation.