Skip links


The regional governments of Latin America and the Caribbean have carried out cooperation projects with their respective European Union peers, in order to promote innovation, sustainability and new opportunities for businesses and their citizens. This initiative of the International Urban Cooperation Program (IUC) ended its activities and promotes good practices for future projects.

Six Latin American countries and ten from the European Union participated in the project, involving topics such as:

Joint Research Center Report on cooperation between EU regions and Latin America and the Caribbean

All the information described here, as well as others, can be found in the Report published by the Joint Research Center, the European Commission’s research service. Click to access the publication:


Report of the Joint Research Center detailing the cooperation between regions from European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean



Informe del Joint Research Center que detalla la cooperación entre regiones de la Unión Europea y América Latina y el Caribe



Relatório do Joint Research Center detalhando a cooperação entre regiões da União Europeia e da América Latina e Caribe

These are the countries that participated in the IUC-LAC initiative for cooperation between regions:

Access the files with the complete informations by clicking on the cooperation pairings

These are the countries that participated in the IUC-LAC initiative for cooperation between regions:



Cooperation between European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean: Benefits and Challenges

The IUC is an European Union initiative with global reach, but Latin America has demonstrated its potential as a dynamic and open region to program methods and international cooperation.

In general, cooperation between regions has contributed to the intention to explore potential areas of innovation in the regions of the European Union. It also facilitated the identification of strengths and priorities for investment, as well as allowing the mobilization of important actors for innovation. Stakeholders from public administrations, companies, research organizations, universities and civil society themselves have engaged in actions within the cooperation and for the development of the region.

The cooperation result is the mutual benefit of regions on both continents, boosting jobs, growth, investment and innovation, as it allows each region to identify and exploit its competitive advantages to move up the global value chain. Thus, the methodology implemented by the project benefits regions around the world, since it is adaptable to different territories; promotes economic transformations and the construction of robust regional innovation ecosystems; and facilitates the adoption of policies related to the United Nations 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Benefits for European Union

Benefits for Latin America

Challenges identified

The interaction between the EU and Latin America also highlights some challenges underlined in the Latin American case. Among the difficulties observed by the interaction between the regions, we can mention:

Financing is considered the biggest barrier to the implementation of cooperation projects in Latin America. In this sense, if Latin American regions are unable to obtain financing from the beginning of the process, the definition of an innovation policy will probably not be applied or will not develop concrete benefits for the place. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what types of research and innovation can be financed by different financing agents at the beginning of the project, in order to enable an innovation strategy with the performance and commitment of different actors.

Cooperation in practice: the Smart Specialization Methodology

Less than a decade ago, the Smart Specialization Methodology (RIS3) was launched in the European Union and was already composed by the desire to promote cooperation between regions and countries. The Joint Research Center (JRC) guided EU Member States to implement more than 120 RIS3 Strategies. Within the Thematic Platforms of the Intelligent Specialization Methodology in energy, agri-food and industrial modernization, more than 160 EU regions collaborated in more than 30 partnerships between regions.

This Methodology is defined by four major characteristics:

In practice, the RIS3 Methodology analyzes the regional context, diagnosing local assets and identifying their priorities, in order to promote the most promising areas. Thus, the methodology uses the Entrepreneurial Discovery Process (EDP) as a way of dialoguing with local actors, in order to identify, validate and decide which innovation priorities for the region or country. In the EU, EDP is perceived positively, as it increases trust between the actors involved and in the public sector, engages stakeholders in the development of the region and improves public policy decision-making.

Case studies

To understand how the Smart Specialization Methodology developed in practice, we analysed case studies that may represent some of the concrete results that were developed through the program. In this sense, the IUC Program is seen by the administrations of the participating regions as a facilitator to identify collaborative partners; encourage learning; and work in network.

The cooperation of the regions of Colima (Mexico) and Extremadura (Spain) within the scope of the IUC Program led to the construction of a relationship beyond the project, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding that covers topics of mutual interest between both participants, such as: agribusiness, Information and Communication Technology and circular economy. The planning of the regions is that this partnership allows, in practice:

  • The development of a protocol for fruits export and import
  • Exchange of methodologies and management models, aiming the creation of a technological park in Colima
  • Establishment of a circular economy center in Colima

The pairing of the Cioeste and Bielsko-Biara regions focused on topics related to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and enabled growth in several areas. The regions have developed:

  • Joint projects between Student Scientific Associations from universities in both regions
  • Initiatives in the creative industries sector, such as Hackathons, IT Days and ICT Events
  • Start-ups Business Scene

In addition, the partnership established two trade agreements:

  • Between Evatronix and brazilian 3D Scanning companies
  • Between green mining and Polish companies in reverse logistics and circular economy driven by blockchain

Based on the cooperation between the regions of Bogotá-Cundinamarca and Lazio, a Memorandum of Understanding was formalized, as a way of symbolizing the intention of partnership in several areas. In addition to a symbol, the document will be used to promote remarkably sustainable social and economic development, in line with the United Nations Agenda 2030.

Other pairings also focus on sustainability, such as:

The cooperation between the regions of Yucatán (Mexico) and Liubliana (Slovenia) has generated:

  • Incorporation of the Sustainable Development Goals into the strategy of the State Development Plan by the Yucatán administration
  • Adoption of sustainability-oriented actions as a way to solve the mobility challenges in Ljubljana
Return to top of page