Venezuela has been under the spell of a grave national crisis for over a decade. What started in 2010 as an “economic war” under the former president Hugo Chávez has grown into a political, socio-economic and humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions under the presidency of Nicolás Maduro. Hyperinflation, starvation, shortages of basic supplies, massive emigration, and high crime and mortality rates are part of daily life in the once prosperous Latin American country. After almost twelve years of crisis, a solution that can help Venezuela to climb out of the depths of its own despair has not yet been found and the prospects for the near future are relatively gloomy. What is of the utmost importance in trying to embark on a sustainable peace process, is that political normalisation will be achieved through a return to the negotiation table, albeit under the right conditions. In this regard, a unified opposition that can offer a credible alternative to Maduro’s influence is essential. The question, however, remains what can be done to realise this and thereby create new impetus for the Venezuelan peace process.
It is well known that the international community is actively engaged and has a stake in achieving a peaceful and prosperous Venezuela. One of these actors is the European Union (EU), which closely monitors the dire situation and tries to do its bit in fostering peace and democracy in Venezuela. A few EU member states, including Spain and the Netherlands, have a particular interest in the Venezuelan crisis. For Spain, this boils down to Venezuelan migrants residing in the country. For the Netherlands, the Venezuelan crisis has affected its overseas islands, especially Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Given the active engagement of the EU, this policy brief will put emphasis on the potential role of the EU in the Venezuelan peace process. In doing so, it will provide suggestions as to how the EU can contribute to Venezuela’s pathway to peace.