OBREAL is a network that was created in order to implement a cooperation project of the European Commission (DG RELEX y EuropeAid). At that moment, the Commission pointed out in its call that the relationship between the European Union and Latin America had become closer as a result of bi-regional summits, existing association agreements (i.e. México and Chile) and association agreement negotiations. Therefore, more and more advices were required for decision-making in the area of bi-regional relationships.
OBREAL was born in this context, with the aim of contributing to the creation of a network of institutions and organizations from both regions which had no coordination mechanisms and/or limited visibility. As a result, OBREAL was set up by 23 academic institutions, research centers in Europe and Latin America, and their own networks, all in a new association with its Executive Secretariat in the University of Barcelona.

Between 2004 an 2007, OBREAL's research was organized in five thematic areas:

  • Trade and financial relations and regional integration
  • Democracy, human rights and the rule of law
  • Social and development cooperation
  • Global governance and multi-regionalism
  • Civil society and institution's building

Since 2008, OBREAL re-defined its former thematic areas and included two new ones: Audiovisuals and Cooperation in Communication and Higher Education, Citizenship & LAC-EU Space.  
In this new context, and keeping its main goals, OBREAL concentrated its actions in project managing, incorporating new members and supporting institutions in the network.