A two day Mercosur summit begins Monday in Montevideo with Foreign Affairs ministers meeting Monday and the presidents on Tuesday when the rotating chair will be passed from Uruguay to Argentina for the next six month.
“Besides the specific points of the agenda and legal elaborations what really matters are the political definitions that the four presidents behind closed doors will decide on Tuesday”, said Uruguayan minister Luis Almagro.
The political direction of Mercosur, how it is evolving from an institutional point of view and what is needed to consolidate the expanded market and have a more prominent profile in world affairs, are probably the main issues to be addressed at the summit according to Uruguayan sources.
The global financial crisis will also be debated which is particularly significant since the major partners of the block have adopted measures to safeguard their own markets and industry and thus hindering trade with the junior partners, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Uruguay is facing growing obstacles for manufactured exports to both Argentina and Brazil, and Paraguay has been unable to stamp the deal tot sell power to Uruguay, an initiative blocked by Argentina through whose grid the interconnection would take place.
So far the four presidents from the founding full member countries, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay have confirmed attendance to the host Uruguay and President Jose Mujica. Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, who recently announced intention of becoming a full Mercosur member is also expected.
Precisely the incorporation mechanism for new associates is one of the points in the agenda, according to President Mujica who revealed there have been discussions with Argentina and Brazil to review the “legal criteria” so as to ensure the final incorporation of Venezuela which remains blocked by the Paraguayan Senate.
The Legislatives of the three other members have long voted positively on the motion.
Venezuela incorporation to the block was approved in 2006 at presidential level but the Paraguayan legislative under control of the opposition to President Fernando Lugo has been refusing to take a vote on the issue.
Only a week ago Marco Aurelio Garcia the Brazilian presidency advisor on foreign affairs admitted that there is discontent with the Paraguayan parliament delay in approving the incorporation of Venezuela.
The access of new members to the block is regulated by the Mercosur charter from 1991 which demands a unanimous approval from the Executive and Legislative branches of current members.
“Modifying the mechanism is a complex juridical solution but not impossible” said Uruguayan sources
“Uruguay has always been a great defender of consensus in Mercosur, but if a country has been requesting for five years and still can’t come in, a solution must be found. Particularly if all the negotiations process has concluded”, said Uruguayan sources.