| THE VALUE OF REGIONALISM IN A NEW GLOBAL
Reflections on the relations between South American countries and the European
by Félix Peña
English translation: Isabel Romero Carranza
Is the so-called Group of Twenty (G20) the institutional
space that will lead to collective answers for global problems that have
already become evident such as climatic change and its relation to world
Still standing, after the Pittsburg Summit, is the
issue of knowing which are the countries that, if acting together, can
provide a sufficient critical mass of power to generate agreements that
nurture a new world order to replace the one that has already collapsed.
The number to be appended to the letter G remains an unanswered question,
in order to create an international political space that enables to translate
collective decisions into effective courses of action. Some countries
which currently form part of the G20 have sufficient relative power by
themselves. Others may increase their presence in the measure that they
are able to reflect the interests of their corresponding regional spaces.
In any case, it would seem timely to reflect on the
role of organized regions in the creation of an effective global architecture
- in terms of being able to contribute collective solutions to problems
that are global in nature and that, due to their significance, may even
compromise world order or trigger tendencies towards international anarchy
- such as is the aim of the G20.
It is within this perspective that we should view
the relation between two regions which, if they could harmonize their
positions, could contribute a great deal in terms of relative power and
thus in their ability to cooperate towards en effective new world order.
The two regions we are referring to will meet again at the upcoming EU-LAC
Summit, to be held in Madrid in April 2010.
Several recent events enable to thread together a path towards a future
scheme of bi-regional relations between the EU and the LAC - including
Mercosur - that is functional to the strategic idea of strengthening regionalism
as a means of ensuring a reasonable set of rules for global governance
President Barak Obama clearly stated the value that the fact that the
different countries assume their global and regional responsibilities
has for the US in his recent UN General Assembly speech of September 23.
In its October 11 edition, the Madrid newspaper El País summed
up perfectly his main messages by highlighting the following paragraphs:
"Those who used to chastise America for acting alone in the world
cannot now stand by and wait for America to solve the world's problems
alone. We have sought - in word and deed - a new era of engagement with
the world. Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility
for a global response to global
) No one nation can or should try to dominate other
nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over
another will succeed. The traditional divisions between nations of the
south and the north make no sense..."
In the same manner, years ago, another US President, John F.Kennedy,
in his speech before the Irish Parliament during his 1963 visit to Dublin,
pointed out that "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved
by skeptics or cynics, whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.
We need men who can dream of things that never were, and ask why not."
The fact that Barak Obama merges in practice the approach presented in
his speech together with a similar attitude to that expressed by Kennedy
may possibly explain the decision of granting him the Noble Peace Prize.
As some analysts have observed, with a mixture of critical spirit and
positive vision, such decision is more a prize for the hope of peace than
for peace as an actual result (see on this respect the commentary by Gideon
Rachman "A triumph of hope over achievement" in the Financial
Times of October 9, at www.ft.com). It is precisely in the attitude of
hope of a ruler and in the soundness of the abovementioned messages where
one can find the common thread for the difficult task of achieving the
guidelines for a sensible global governance, that enables us to move along
the current process of redistribution of world power in relative peace.
This poses the following question: is the so-called G20 the institutional
space that will lead towards collective answers for global problems that
have already become evident, such as climate change and its relation to
world trade? (The latter was the central issue at the Multi-Stakeholder
Dialogu,e organized at the IMD in Lausanne by the Evian Group and the
Friedrich Ebert Foundation, on September 24-26). After the Pittsburgh
Summit of September 26, there are still doubts on this respect (see the
complete text of the Summit's Final Declaration at http://www.g20.org/).
The fact that no concrete steps have been taken to conclude the Doha Round
(on the current state of negotiations within the WTO and the results of
Pittsburgh, see the Bridge Weekly Review of the International Centre for
Trade and Sustainable Development, volume 13, number 33 of September 30
and the information provided on the WTO webpage http://www.wto.org)
or to guide the next Copenhagen Conference on climate change (see the
information on December's conference at http://es.cop15.dk/),
contribute to feed such doubts.
Still standing after this last Summit is the issue of knowing which are
the countries that, if acting together, can provide a sufficient critical
mass of power to generate agreements that nurture a new world order to
replace the one that has already collapsed. The number to be appended
to the letter G remains an unanswered question, so as to create an international
political space that enables to translate collective decisions into effective
courses of action.
One of the limitations of the current G20 may be precisely the heterogeneity
of the participating countries in terms of real power. Some of the countries
reflect their own endowment of relative power, such the case of the US
and China, maybe even Russia and India. Others may rightfully speak on
behalf of their own region with the certainty that it has sufficient relative
power. Beyond the differences of interests and visions that exist among
them, this is the case of the members of the European Union (EU) - such
as Germany, France and the United Kingdom- which is also represented by
the President of the European Commission. Other countries, even when they
are relevant in terms of relative power (at times more potential than
actual), can't necessarily uphold that they represent the opinion that
prevails in their corresponding region. Such is the case, for example,
of Argentina and Brazil, but also of Indonesia and South Africa.
Such situation leads to reflect on the role of organized regions in the
creation of an effective global architecture - in terms of being able
to contribute collective solutions to problems that are global in nature
and that, due to their significance, may even compromise world order or
trigger tendencies towards international anarchy -such as is the aim of
the G20. .
It is within this perspective that we should view the relation between
two regions which, if they eventually harmonized positions, could contribute
a great deal in terms of relative power - at least in some relevant issues
of the global agenda- and thus in their ability to cooperate towards en
effective new world order. In fact, its is in connection to this possibility
that we need to regard the relation between Latin America and the Caribbean
(LAC) - and maybe more specifically South America - and the European Union
(EU). Both regions will meet again next April at the upcoming Madrid Summit.
Will a strategic outlook that is attuned to the challenges faced by both
regions in relation to the relevant issues of the global agenda, and not
just the bilateral relation, result from this meeting? There are still
several months left to come up with a credible answer for this question.
Three different facts would need to be highlighted in the search of
an answer to this question. The first of them is that the objectives pursued
by ten years of strategic association are far from being achieved (on
this respect see the June edition of this Newsletter). The network of
bi-regional agreements that contribute at the same time to the regional
integration of the LAC and to the development of an effective multilateralism
has yet to be achieved. A key link of such network, the agreement between
EU and Mercosur, still cannot get past the realm of good intentions, which
are periodically renewed - they will meet again in Lisbon from November
4 to November 6 - apparently due to the fact that the Doha Round has not
been concluded (on this subject see the articles by Raúl Roccatagliata,
"A consensus to continue growing" published in Clarín
newspaper of October 11 and also "Dialogue between Mercosur and EU",
published in the Economy Section of La Nación newspaper of October
11, as well as the video of our September 21 presentation at the Institute
of International and European Affairs in Dublin, http://www.iiea.com:80/events/eu-mercosur-prospects).
As was previously mentioned, the conclusion of the Doha Round is still
a pending issue and the forecasts are not necessarily optimistic ones,
even after the informal ministerial meeting of New Delhi and the Pittsburgh
The European Commission document on the strategy with regards to the
LAC, presented on September 30, opens a window to a renewed vision of
the bi-regional relations. This is the second recent event to take into
account. It is interesting to note that the Commission's proposal seems
to move away from the negotiation of bi-regional preferential agreements
as the main instrument of the relation with LAC. In fact, it places the
stress on new issues of the bi-regional agenda which not necessarily require
agreements that are compatible with article XXIV of the GATT, that is
to say OMC-plus (see the full text of the European Commission communication
to the European Parliament and Council under the title "The European
Union and Latin America: Global Players in Partnership" at http://ec.europa.eu/).
The third recent fact is the EU-Brazil Summit, held at the highest level
in Stockholm on October 6, within the frame of the strategic alliance
devised by the two parties (see the text of the final Declaration under
note nº 503 of October 5 on the Itamaraty webpage, http://www.mre.gov.br).
Simultaneously, a third Brazil-EU business meeting was held in Stockholm
and its agenda can be found at http://www.medefinternational.fr/.
A final declaration was approved as a result of this business meeting
under the title "Building cooperation for the post-crisis world"
In practice, both meetings seem to have favored the European relation
with Brazil vis-à-vis what was proposed by the 1995 Treaty of Madrid
as a space for cooperation between Mercosur and the EU which, even when
still valid and with an extensive agenda, has not been developed until
the present day.
The following paragraph of the business declaration is worth mentioning
since it denotes the intention of moving forward on a bilateral path on
issues that supposedly belonged in the bi-regional arena: "Sectoral
dialogues under the Strategic Partnership need now to move forward and
begin to deliver trade and investment opportunities for companies: The
EU Brazil Strategic Partnership is an important milestone in our economic
relations, recognizing the pre-eminent role of the bilateral relationship
in Latin America and acknowledging the shared economic objectives for
both parties. EU and Brazilian companies note with approval that steps
have been taken toward the establishment of regulatory dialogues on important
industrial sectors (steel, non-ferrous metals and minerals; forest products;
and textiles and clothing). Industry is ready to work with the Brazilian
government and the European Commission to tackle the problems of their
sectors. Companies now call for a recommitment to taking action on both
sides. In time other dialogues can be envisaged, particularly on intellectual
property rights, customs policy and regulations on climate change affecting
trade in goods and services".
One of the assumptions of this strategic partnership is Brazil's potential
for regional leadership, especially in the South American space. One consideration
should be made on this respect. It is a fact that Brazil -undoubtedly
a relevant country- has achieved regional and global prominence and a
certain prestige based mostly on its economic dimension - greatly improved
by an unquestionable success of its economic policies during the last
ten years and by its recent discovery of an enormous wealth of oil reserves
- and by a growing institutional quality whose origins can be traced back
to what was achieved during the governments of presidents Fernando Henrique
Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva- (on this issue refer to
the notes included in the Business supplement of the Madrid newspaper
El País of October 11 under the title "Brazil jumps. The South
American country rises as an economic power while facing the challenge
of eliminating poverty"). With all the positive aspects that this
fact entails, even for Argentina and the South American region, this does
not necessarily imply that, as a consequence of its relative power and
its growing prestige, Brazil can legitimately claim that it speaks on
behalf of South America, nor that it can wield an undisputed regional
leadership. A recent article by Julio María Sanguinetti, published
in La Nación newspaper on October 2 under the eloquent title "Brasil
and triumphalism", rightfully warns about the risks of a "triumphalism"
that leads to assume such leadership. Taking for granted the future quality
of Brazil's relations with its South American partners, even with Argentina,
is not advisable because it could lead to serious errors of the strategic
type (on the relations between Argentina and Brazil see the analysis by
Roberto Bouzas in his article "Argentina, Brazil and the challenge
of finding the lost path", published in the Enfoques section of La
Nación newspaper of October 11).
Added together, the three facts that were mentioned previously enable
to thread together the paths for a future scheme of bi-regional relations
between LAC and the EU - including Mercosur - that is functional to the
strategic idea of strengthening regionalism as a means of ensuring reasonable
guidelines for global governance. This should start by acknowledging that
regional governance, particularly in the South American space, will require
joint leaderships that can precisely be threaded together - among other
things - by the leading role that Brazil is in condition to play. At the
same time, such acknowledgement implies the strengthening of the institutionalization
of regional cooperation based on a network of common rules that are in
effect applied, particularly in the realm of UNASUR and Mercosur. This
institutionalization may be promoted by the actions developed by the EU
within the framework of its new strategic approach and by the joint action
of Mercosur members and of other relevant countries of the region, especially
Chile. Within such perspective, it would be convenient that action is
supported by the strategic partnership EU-Brazil in order to actively
resume the relations with Mercosur by making use of the full potential
of the EU-Mercosur framework agreement, signed in Madrid in 1995, without
injury to the attempts to conclude the pending preferential commercial
If meetings such as the recent Stockholm one contributed to this, the
South American region would be in better condition to assume its responsibilities,
in line with what was called for by President Obama in his aforementioned
speech at the United Nations. In this sense, the strategic partnership
between the EU and Brazil might have a positive irradiation effect on
the advancement not only of the bi-regional alliance but also of the very
same South American regional governance.
Recommended Readings of Recent Publication:
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Making a Difference Together. A comparative review of international
diaspora strategies", The Ireland Funds, Dublin 2009, at http://www.irlfunds.org.
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en una época de crisis", Consejo Uruguayo para las Relaciones
Internacionales, Análisis del CURI nº 09/09, September 16,
2009, at http://www.curi.org.uy.
- Campbell, Malcolm, "Ireland's New Worlds. Immigrants, Politics,
and Society in the United States and Australia, 1815-1922", The
University of Wisconsin Press, Madison Wisconsin 2008.
- Casanova, Lourdes, "Global Latinas. Latin America's emerging
multinationals", INSEAD Business Press - Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
- CELARE, "10 Años de la Asociación Estratégica
ALC-UE", EUR-LAT Revista de Relaciones Eurolatinoamericanas del
Centro Latinoamericano para las Relaciones con Europa, nº 80 -
Year 16 - Vol.3 - Santiago de Chile, October 2009.
- Coogan, Tim Pat, "Wherever Green is Worn. The Story of the Irish
Diaspora", Arrow Books, London 2002.
- Cordón, Carlos; Vollmann, Thomas E., "The Power of Two.
How smart companies create win-win customer-supplier partnerships that
outperform the competition", Palgrave MacMillan, New York 2009.
- Enterprise Ireland, "Global Irish Economic Forum. Enterprise
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Rules in the Global Trading System", IDB-WTO, Cambridge University
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by Global Trade Alert", Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR),
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An initial assessment", University of St.Gallen and CEPR, 30 September
2009, forthcoming in Business & Politics, October 2009.
- Government of Ireland, "Building Ireland's Smart Economy. A Framework
for Sustainable Economic Renewal", Department of the Taoiseach,
Dublin 2008, at http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie.
- Gray, Peter, "The Irish Famine", Thames & Hudson, London
- Grevi, Giovanni, "The interpolar world: a new scenario",
European Union Institute for Security Studies, Occasional Paper, number
79, June 2009, at www.iss.europa.eu.
- Henry, William, "Coffin Ship. The Wreck of the Brig St.John",
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Squandered Ireland's Wealth", Hachette Books Ireland, Dublin 2009.
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State Actors and Non-State Actors: Case Analyses from Different Parts
of the World", Republic of Letters Publishing, Dordrecht 2009.
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in the WTO. A Law and Economics Analysis", Cambridge University
Press, New York 2009.
- Tóibin, Colm; Ferriter, Diarmaid, "The Irish Famine. A
Documentary", Profile Books in association with London Review of
Books, London 2004.
- Valdez, Gabriel, "Sueños y memorias", Taurus, Aguilar
Chilena de Ediciones, Santiago de Chile 2009.
- Wihbey, Paul Michael, "The Rise of the New Oil Order", Academy
& Finance, Geneva 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