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  Félix Peña

INTERNATIONAL TRADE RELATIONS NEWSLETTER
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THREE INTERTWINED DIMENSIONS
The political, the economic and the legal dimensions in a process of deep integration.


by Félix Peña
August 2019

English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza


 

In a process of deep integration, the economic the legal and the political are the three fundamental dimensions to consider. These three dimensions are essential to understand the beginning of the construction of a space of integration between sovereign nations and its subsequent development.

The path initiated with the launch of the Schumann Plan, on May 9, 1950, is illustrative in this regard. The idea of peace and democratic governance - the political dimension-had to be supported by de facto solidarities anchored in a relevant productive sector such as coal and steel -the economic dimension -within the framework of common institutions and rules that would make them effective -the legal dimension . They were three intertwined dimensions.

These three dimensions have also been fundamental since the founding of the current Mercosur. They are essential when evaluating its results and examining the steps aimed at achieving its adaptation to the new realities.

The political dimension is reflected in the consolidation of democracies in the member countries, based on the cooperation and integration of their respective productive systems. The economic dimension is, in turn, the result of the idea of creating a common market, whose betterment has no specific timeframe but does have instruments that are functional to the objective pursued, such as that of the common external tariff. The legal dimension is reflected in the rules and institutions established in the Treaty of Asunción -its charter - especially in the combination of its 1st and 2nd articles.

At a time when what will supposedly be the final phase of the approval process of the bi-regional agreement between the EU and Mercosur has started, the considerations presented here may be of some relevance, in particular in relation to the process of entry into force of this bi-regional agreement.


Three dimensions are closely intertwined at the founding moments of a process of deep integration between sovereign nations. By this we mean a process that aims to provide conditions of predictability for productive investment decisions that are adopted based on the expanded market generated by the corresponding agreement.

More precisely, we are referring to the political, the economic and the legal dimensions. These are fundamental to understand the beginning of the construction of a space of integration between sovereign nations.

The path started with the launch of the Schumann Plan, on May 9, 1950, is illustrative in this regard. Jean Monnet, one of the main founding fathers of European integration, made it clear that, in order to be effective and produce the intended results, an initiative that involved France, Germany and other countries of the region, needed to have a close interrelation between its political, economic and legal dimensions

In this perspective, the idea of peace and democratic governance -the political dimension-had to be backed by de facto solidarities anchored in a relevant productive sector, such as coal and steel-the economic dimension-and within a framework of common institutions and rules that would make them effective-the legal dimension. They were three intertwined dimensions.

Seventy years later, European peace and governance continue to be sustained by the predominance of common interests and visions as a whole, resulting precisely from the effects of the linkages between the respective economic systems based on the prevailing common institutions and rules.

The strength of such linkages has been evidenced in the Brexit process, when the United Kingdom has had serious difficulties in extricating itself from the commitments freely agreed in the European integration system.

These three dimensions have also been present since the founding of the current Mercosur. They are fundamental when evaluating its results and examining the steps aimed at achieving its necessary and continuous adaptation to the new realities.

The political dimension is reflected in the consolidation of the democratic systems of the member countries based on the cooperation and integration of their corresponding productive systems. For this purpose, it was essential to reaffirm the quality of the relation between Argentina and Brazil, which was done through the bilateral integration agreement of 1986 promoted by presidents Alfonsin and Sarney. It relied on the climate of understanding that had been achieved at the time, especially by deterring the course of the nuclear escalation that had characterized the bilateral relationship in previous years.

The economic dimension is, in turn, the result of the idea of creating a common market and negotiating as a whole with third countries. Its definitive improvement does not have a specific timeframe, but it does have instruments that are functional to the desired objective, especially the common external tariff.

The legal dimension is reflected in the rules and institutions established by the Treaty of Asunción -its charter- when its article 2 stipulates that: "The Common Market shall be based on reciprocity of rights and obligations between the States Parties." It is in the light of this norm that we should understand what the member countries have committed to accomplish together, especially in article 1, which provides, among other legal commitments of political and economic content,"the establishment of a common external tariff and the adoption of a common trade policy in relation to third States or groups of States and the coordination of positions in regional and international economic and commercial forums". The commitment is very clear. If a country eventually disagreed, for example with Mercosur having a common external tariff --whose content is not defined in the sense that it must be "perfect" according to economic theory--it would have to either denounce the Treaty and withdraw Mercosur under the conditions provided for in its articles 21 and 22, or have the Treaty modified, with the corresponding parliamentary approval.

At a moment when what will be the final phase of the approval process of the bi-regional agreement between the EU and Mercosur seems to have started, the considerations presented here may be relevant. In particular in relation to the process of entry into force of this bi-regional agreement, which could only have full effect if it is ratified by all Mercosur member states.


Recommended Reading:


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  • Elizondo, Marcelo, "La Argentina y la oportunidad de romper la cerrazón comercial con el acuerdo UE-Mercosur", Suplemento Comercio Exterior de "la Nación", 25 de julio 2019, página 3, en https://www.lanacion.com.ar/.
  • Fraga, Rosendo, "Acuerdo pre-electoral: Brasil 2002 y Argentina 2019", "El Cronista", 13 de agosto de 2019. en https://www.cronista.com/.
  • Fukushima, Glen S., "Bilateralism takes the lead after the Osaka G20 Summit", East Asia Review 22 July 2019, en https://www.eastasiaforum.org/.
  • Guerrero Lozano, Nieves, "Los especialistas analizan minuciosamente el acuerdo entre la UE y el Mercosur", Suplemento Comercio Exterior de "La Nación", 8 de agosto 2019, páginas 4 y 5, en https://www.lanacion.com.ar/.
  • Laborías, Alexis Rodrigo, "El Protocolo de inversiones del Mercosur en el contexto del nuevo derecho internacional de las inversiones extranjeras", RSTPR, Revista de la Secretaría del Tribunal Permanente de Revisión, Año 6, N° 12, 2018, en http://www.revistastpr.com/index.php/rstpr/article/view/299.
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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


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