There have never been better possibilities for MERCOSUR to close de deal with the European Union, although it has never been as sensibility and distrust as within this historical stage. Indeed, Europe is currently under a transitional process of their leadership and structures because of the need to establish reforms that finally consolidate the European project from there very basics: philosophy.
After Brexit shock and the growing wave of nationalist movements accompanied by a strong trend towards isolationism, we are experienced a lost of vision in terms of external relations and a sense of protection of their own structures. The collapse in relations with US supposes another shock that has forced to abandoned an old historical model of Plan Marshall and walk an strategically path also for geopolitical relations.
The agenda in the short and medium term based on new regulations, innovative initiatives and a general change of cultural both political and related to their own survival derived from the negative impact of climate change. Last European elections results confirm that they are truly priorities in the agenda, beyond finances and trade. Partly because of the level of awareness and responsibility that exists around this area, part because of the discredit that supposes exaggerated policies on austerity – no correlated with a reasonable growth and a status quo from TROIKA that has not helped in order to reduce inequality.
Within that framework pretend that Latin America represent a priority rather than specific investment projects, is it just a utopia more than the agreement in itself but an strategy focused on positive and equal results.
Triangular cooperation is the one that plays the leading role in Europe and the feasible alternative for this specific crisis time. Expect that under this conditions, Latin America will transform into an ideal partner is simply out of logics.
Latin America within regional institutions, should make a sustained and committed exercise of “depoliticized” their structures and make them flexible enough to allow one-to-one relationship. The European Union needs strength at time to bridge the gap to countries that even no developed, has enough trustworthiness to act as bloc and offer guarantees.
If there is no internal cohesion they will not be external coherence. A common market supposes sacrifices and small countries are the most impacted by this kind of agreements which means even stronger guarantees. Not as a way to block the negotiation process but to search for internal measures that deliver safety from all sides including reconversion.
The lack of governance is a negative element that supposes a “veil”, not allowing clean and open agreements but a vicious process coming from diverse interests.
Latin America is trapped within its own spiral of traditional and old-fashioned politics and still see Europe as the “big colonist” that dominate the stage and at the same time deliver solutions beyond their own resources. A fallacy that drives to a feeling of no empowerment that blocks in the search for solutions and maximization of talent and natural resources that may transforms the continent into a higher level of global competitiveness. In addition to uneasy presence of Bolsonaro that from an European perspective is “one more” with Trump, Farage, Salvini, Le Pen, etc. on the stubborn search for nationalist isolationism as the solution to all diseases. The idea that would achieve direct benefits without being summited to global commitment is simply absurd. It supposes an additional factor for perceiving MERCOSUR as unreliable partner. Its also true that its just an specific political momentum for Brazil, although taking into account that it’s the most relevant country in the region in relation to development future perspectives, and that comes from a process that lacks in governance that is translated in a leader of a Union without cohesion.. Compare Brazil with Uruguay for instance, becomes useless for diverse reasons, mainly for the fact that stability contrasts with ups and downs and nationalist agenda from Brazil. Is not a good forecast for the region and the dominant presence of the Brazilian “colossus”.
Even if its from an ideological aspect, we must add that trade agreements represent a truly threat for the Union. Any agreement must be based in equal opportunities and not the “colonial” idea that Europe delivers aid. If that is the case it would be better to focused on specific agreements with the countries alone and not within the block. The threat that supposes Brazil with sugar /ethanol cannot be evaluated under the light of MERCOSUR but of an specific case.
Is for all of the above that I consider that it would be good or, an agreement not very ambitious but deep at political level that centered the basics for agreements of higher importance in the near future, or, EU intervention as partner within triangular cooperation with China e.g. prone to invest in Latin America and also with political will for a healthy relationship with Europe.
I strongly believe that triangular cooperation is a legitimated expectation for MERCOSUR in Europe within this sensible political moment. It supposes a necessary first step to get to know each other and “training” for MERCOSUR in their collaboration. Furthermore aid and individual trade agreements needs a maturation process at different levels for good governance, digital inclusion and one-to-one trade proposals. Without all of the above pillars it would be a complete failure and assign an excessive leadership to Brazil. Being 1er world sugar producer –although in the downhill- and also 2do for ethanol with US, a forecast of 40% increase for the next decade*- transform it into a too much competitive partner that should offer guarantees to assure a clean game. In addition to the own weakness of the bloc of countries to settle a common currency, which exposure their division and incompetence*. Finally, the Customs Union format results into an unbalanced position in front of the European Union market.
Essential pillars for a fulfilled agreement: equal and guaranteed, avoiding protectionist lines and print the market with trust.
A project in the medium term.