THREE INTERTWINED DIMENSIONS
The political, the economic and the legal dimensions in a process of deep
by Félix Peña
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
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
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
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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