inicio | contacto | buscador | imprimir   
 
· Presentación
· Trayectoria
· Artículos y notas
· Newsletter (español)
· Newsletter (english)
· Radar Internacional
· Tesis de posgrado
· Programas de clase
· Sitios recomendados

Publicaciones
· Las crisis en el multilateralismo y en los acuerdos regionales
· Argentina y Brasil en
el sistema de relaciones internacionales
· Momentos y Perspectivas


  Félix Peña

INTERNATIONAL TRADE RELATIONS NEWSLETTER
2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009
THE SPAIN 2010 EU-LAC SUMMIT:
Towards a qualitative leap in the bi-regional transatlantic relation?

by Félix Peña
June 2009

English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza


 

As a result of the upcoming EU-LAC Summit to be held in Spain next year, a "qualitative leap" should enable to adapt the bi-regional process, which has lasted for ten years, to the new global and regional realities.

The world, Europe and Latin America are today very different from what they were when the original layout for the strategic bi-regional association was conceived. Ignoring such changes would mean running deep into a path which would lead to the irrelevance of the mechanism of bi-regional summits.

Aside from the objectives and the agendas that the joint work between both regions strives to develop, the main issue to discuss refers to the methods used to translate the political will for transatlantic cooperation into reality.

To a great extent the difficulties that have been faced, and that may account for the meager results obtained until now, are a consequence of the diversities and asymmetries that exist between the forms of organization of both regional geographic spaces.

The experience gathered until now suggests that it would be convenient to introduce operative modalities that enable to preserve the necessary political drive and, at the same time, to adapt the roadmap to the incessant changes that will continue to develop in the global and regional realities.

A concrete idea would be to commission a working team, formed by high-ranking independent personalities, the evaluation of the experience gathered during the past ten years, a diagnostic of the priority fields for joint action and, especially, their recommendations on the working methods that could be most effective.


The idea of a "qualitative leap" in the bi-regional negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) seems to have become a main objective of the upcoming EU-LAC Summit to be held in Spain next year.

This Summit will be preceded by the XIX Ibero-American Summit that will take place next November in Estoril (Portugal) and whose main focus will be the key issues of innovation and knowledge (see this site).

The qualitative leap should enable to adapt a bi-regional process with ten years of history to the new global and regional realities. The world, Europe and Latin America are today very different from what they were when the original layout for the strategic bi-regional association was conceived. Ignoring such changes would mean running deep into a path which would lead to the irrelevance of the mechanism of bi-regional summits. This does not seem to be the strategic interest of any of the regions involved, especially with relation to the common goal of achieving the development of an effective multilateralism that facilitates global governance.

More recently, the global crisis and the deep transformations that are operating in world power -of which the recent Yekaterinburg (Russia) BRIC Summit is but one of the numerous evidences- make it an unavoidable task to adapt the goals, agendas and especially the working methods of the bi-regional transatlantic relations. It would be befitting to undertake this task with a vision of the future -such as the next ten years- and concrete and flexible action plans -roadmaps- that take into account the changes that are also taking place in the United States -of which the "Obama factor" is more than just a symbol- and in hemispheric relations, as well as the strong and growing presence of China in Latin American countries.

The idea of such a qualitative leap in the transatlantic bi-regional relation was raised by Juan Pablo de Laiglesia, State Secretary for Ibero-American Affairs of the Spanish government, on his recent visit to Latin America. During his stay in Montevideo he specifically pointed out that "the message is twofold: we want to take advantage of the presidency of the Union to prompt a qualitative leap in the relations between the European Union and Latin America, both at a global level as well as at the level of the Latin American sub-regional groups." He also stated that Spain's intention is to "move past declarations into concrete action plans that also enable us to turn this dialogue between Latin America and the European Union into a constant issue in our agendas and with elements for follow-up". He also added that "we are interested in making this dialogue something permanent and not just circumscribed to the Summits, with an action plan that signals routes of joint action for the future" (see this site).

Previously, the European Commissioner for External Relations, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, had made declarations along the same lines by stating that "the next EU-LAC Summit should contribute to the strengthening of political dialogue, reflecting the most pressing issues of our bi-regional agenda in 2010". She added that "we should also be capable of utilizing the remaining time until this Summit to devise an action plan for the approval of our Heads of State and Government. An action plan that would aid in the execution of a project of cohesive character in areas of great integration impact… with the participation of governments, the civil society and the private sector, within the framework of a renovated bi-regional Association" (click to see the document).

In both cases, relevant protagonists in the preparation process of the next EU-LAC Summit have placed the stress on the key issue of bi-regional relations after a ten year experience which began with the 1999 Rio de Janeiro Summit. Aside from the objectives and the agendas that are sought through this work mechanism, this refers to the methods used to translate the idea of joint action into reality.

To a great extent the difficulties that have been faced and that may account for the meager results obtained until now, are a consequence of the diversities and asymmetries that exist between the forms of organization of both regional geographic spaces. Professor Piero Pennetta from the University of Salerno has made this fact manifest in a well documented book of recent publication (see the reference in the Recommended Readings Section at the end of this Newsletter).

In fact, one of the regions is organized through the European Union as an integrated economic and, increasingly, political space. The other region is fragmented into different institutional ambits, some of which are not even perceived as being strong or efficient -such as the Andean Community of Nations and to a certain degree Mercosur- and some others which have not yet attained the capacity to express the collective point of view of their member countries -such as UNASUR whose constituent agreement has not become effective yet.

On the one hand, in Europe, there is a relatively solid institutional construct with a great potential for irreversibility, in spite of the difficulties that have become manifest by the differentiated effects of the current economic crisis and the delays in concluding the process initiated by the Treaty of Lisbon. On the other hand, in Latin America and the Caribbean prevails precarious and scattered integration efforts. As a result the situation is far from irreversible in terms of the creation of institutions that can organize the regional space within the logic of integration.

Some of the outstanding issues in the transatlantic bi-regional relation could be eventually resolved before or during the 2010 Summit. Most probably, the association agreement between the EU and Central American countries will be finalized on this occasion. Also there has been some progress in the bilateral negotiations between Colombia and Peru and the EU, and it is even possible that a bilateral agreement is signed with Ecuador. All these would add to the existing agreements with Chile and Mexico.

Also, the EU has concluded a strategic alliance agreement with Brazil that does not include commercial preferences but that encompasses a wide spectrum of joint actions. Most of them had already been contemplated in the EU-Mercosur Framework Cooperation Agreement, signed in Madrid in 1995 and still in force. It is to be seen how the work agenda outlined by this new bilateral agreement is translated into reality, considering that the one included in the Madrid Treaty never materialized through relevant actions. Also to be seen is the future impact that this initiative will have in the cohesiveness of Mercosur. Beyond the repeated declarations originating from both Brazil and the EU, it becomes difficult to understand the bi-lateral extent of this strategic alliance if it is viewed from the perspective of the reiterated explicit interest of strengthening Mercosur.

It has not been possible to finalize the bi-regional association agreement between the EU and Mercosur yet (on this issue, refer to the November 2008 issue of this Newsletter). The most obvious reason - at least the most mentioned - continues to be the fact that in order to conclude the corresponding commercial negotiations it would be necessary to move forward with or finish the Doha Round first. The fact is that there are no apparent reasons, at least for the time being, to expect a favorable outcome, neither in regards to the pending negotiations within the WTO nor in reference to the bi-regional negotiations between the EU and Mercosur.

Consequently, it would seem advisable that in the preparation process for the next EU-LAC Summit a strong emphasis is placed in the working methods used to carry out a renovated transatlantic bi-regional agenda adapted to the new challenges faced by both regions. In fact, the accumulated experience indicates that it would be necessary to introduce operative modalities that enable to preserve the needed political drive through time and, simultaneously, to adapt the roadmap to the incessant changes that will continue to develop both in the global and regional realities.

The main issues of the bi-regional agenda go beyond the level of preferential trade negotiations in the sense stated by GATT regulations (article XXIV). They are related with some of the issues that demand collective answers at a global scale, such as those of climate change and the environment; the reform of international financial institutions; the preservation of the conditions for the integration of transnational production chains; food safety; new sources of energy and, collective security among others.

Additionally, new non-preferential modalities should also be included in the agenda of bi-regional transatlantic relations to increase trade and investment flows; the financial support for infrastructure projects to improve the quality of the physical connections among markets and, also, the cooperation towards the development of those Latin American countries of lesser economic dimension. In regards to this last aspect, the ample cooperation experience of the EU with developing countries, even with those from within Europe itself, could contribute to the realization of projects of triangular cooperation including also an active participation of the more developed countries of Latin America.

A concrete idea to move forward with the preparation of the next EU-LAC Summit would be to commission a working group formed by high-ranking independent personalities -possessing both prestige and experience- the elaboration of a policy-oriented report which includes the evaluation of the progress made during the last ten years and the assessment of the priority fields for future joint action. In particular, this report should include suggestions on the working methods that would be most effective in order to preserve the political momentum of the bi-regional relations, the continuous adaptation to the new realities and the capacity to translate commitments into actual facts.

In addition, it would be convenient to obtain, through such practice, a strong participation of the business sector and of other sectors of the civil society, so that the qualitative leap that is attempted through the next EU-LAC Summit could have an ample support base and social legitimacy. Furthermore, the regional parliamentary institutions should be actively consulted as well.


Recommended Readings of Recent Publication:

  • Calfat, Germán and Flôres Jr, Renato G., "The Insertion of Mercosur into the World's Fragmentation Trade", Chaire Mercosur, SciencesPo, Paris 2009.
  • CEBRI-ICONE, "Comércio e Negociaçôes Internacionais para Jornalistas - Trade and International Negotiations for Journalists", Centro Brasileiro de Relaçôes Internacionais (CEBRI) - Instituto de Estudo do Comércio e Negociaçôes Internacionalis (ICONE) - Embaixada Britânica, Brasilia, CEBRI, Rio de Janeiro 2009, on http://www.cebri.org.br.
  • Chautard, Sophie, "Géopolitique du XXe Siècle", Studyrama Perspectives, Paris 2009.
  • Choplin, Gérard; Strickner, Alexandra; Trouvé, Aurélie (coord), "Souveraineté alimentaire. Que fait l'Europe? Pour une nouvelle politique agricole et alimentaire européenne", Attac, Editions Sylepse, Paris 2009.
  • Dehousse, Renaud; Deloche-Gaudez, Florence; Jacquot, Sophie (coord), "Que fait l'Europe", SciencesPo Les Presses, Paris 2009.
  • De Lombaerde, Philippe; Puri, Lakshmi (editors), "Aid for Trade: Global and Regional perspectives. 2nd World Report on Regional Integration", UNU-CRIS, Programme on Comparative Regional Studies - Garnet, Springer 2009
  • Heydon, Kenneth and Woolcock, Stephen, "The Rise of Bilateralism. Comparing American, European and Asian Approaches to Preferential Trade Agreements", UNU-CRIS, Programme on Comparative Regional Studies, United Nations University Press, Tokio-New York-Paris 2009.
  • Kösler, Arianne, "The Southern African Development Community and its Relations to the European Union. Deepening Integration in Southern Africa", C169 - Center For European Integration Studies - ZEI, Bonn 2007.
  • Kühnhardt, Ludger, "European Union - The Second Founding. The Changing Rationale of European Integration", Center for European Integration Studies of Bonn - ZEI - Nomos, Baden-Baden 2008.
  • Laïdi, Zaki, "La norme sans la force", SciencesPo, Les Presses, Paris 2008.
  • Leita, Francisco; Negro, Sandra C. (coordinadores), "La Union Europea y el Mercosur: a 50 años de la firma de los Tratados de Roma", Facultad de Derecho - UBA y Editorial La Ley, Buenos Aires 2008.
  • Maalouf, Amin, "Le dérèglement du monde", Editions Bernard Grasset, Paris 2009.
  • Pennetta, Piero, "Integrazione europea ed integrazioni latino-americane e caraibich: modelli e rapporti", Cacucci Editore, Bari 2009

Félix Peña Director of the Institute of International Trade at the ICBC Foundation. Director of the Masters Degree in International Trade Relations at Tres de Febrero National University (UNTREF). Member of the Executive Committee of the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI). Member of the Evian Group Brains Trust. More information.

http://www.felixpena.com.ar | info@felixpena.com.ar


Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a monthly e-mail with the
latest articles published on this site.


 

Regresar a la página anterior | Top de la página | Imprimir artículo

 
Diseño y producción: Rodrigo Silvosa