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Regional strategy for Mercosur 2007-2013
The Regional Strategy Paper for Mercosur identifies the priorities for cooperation between the European Union and the region for the period 2007-2013, i.e. deepening of Mercosur, implementation of the future Association Agreement between the two partners, and civil society participation in the integration process, including mutual knowledge and visibility. It thus enables the assistance to be directed according to the actions identified to achieve these priorities, while at the same time defining the terms and conditions for implementation in the Regional Indicative Programme for the period 2007-2013.
European Commission – Regional Strategy Paper 2007-2013 for Mercosur .
The Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) defines the objectives and priorities of the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur for the period 2007-2013. The aim is to deepen this cooperation, while at the same time adding a regional dimension to EU cooperation with each Mercosur Member State included in the Country Strategy Papers (CSPs), i.e. Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay.
Challenges faced by Mercosur
Mercosur has been acquiring an increasingly strong political dimension. This boosts regional integration and the will of the leaders to link growth, social justice and people’s dignity to it. Mercosur has made considerable progress despite incomplete economic integration, trade disputes and disparities between the Member States. The region is raising its international standing by associating with other South American countries. The objective now is to make the region and its members leading world actors, alongside China, India and Russia.
Furthermore, Mercosur is the fourth largest economic grouping in the world, although Brazil alone accounts for 79 % of its GDP. The economies of the region have recovered after the financial crises, in particular thanks to improved competitiveness, better terms of trade, higher international commodities prices, exports and the improved economic environment. The fiscal position was improved during the crisis years to limit the inflationary impact. Nevertheless, despite many advances, the Mercosur countries remain vulnerable to international fluctuations in prices and interest rates, the world economic situation and their high public debt. They must persevere in areas linked to structural reform, fiscal consolidation, and the reduction of poverty and income inequality.
From 2002 to 2005, Mercosur’s intraregional trade accounted for 15 % of total trade. Only Brazil’s trade structure has been oriented towards world markets, whereas Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are more dependent on their Mercosur partners. Its participation in world trade represented just 1.05 % of total trade during the same period. Nevertheless, Mercosur, led by Brazil, is trying to diversify trade flows to boost regional trade, in particular by signing the Mercosur-Andean Community Free Trade Agreement. Finally, NAFTA and the EU still account for the lion’s share of the trade of the region.
At social level, progress has been made in many areas, especially regarding health and literacy. The population growth of the region is around 1.1 %, with wide differences between individual countries. With economic growth, efforts should focus on increasing income and reducing poverty, which, with the rise in unemployment and social exclusion, experienced the backlash of the 1999-2002 recession.
At environmental level too, the varied and abundant ecosystems of the region are under threat. The initiatives in the field of environmental protection, biodiversity and ecosystems must be strengthened and pursue the objective of sustainable development.
Priority areas of the regional strategy 2007-2013
The first priority is to support Mercosur institutionalisation, which will allow the backlog to be made up in the incorporation and implementation of its legislation by its Member States. The nature of the EU’s experience and support for concrete institutional development projects at the Parliament, the Permanent Review Tribunal and the Secretariat of Mercosur will boost institutional effectiveness.
Deepening of Mercosur and implementation of a future EU-Mercosur Association Agreement form the second priority of the strategy. There is a need for deepening in the trade and economic fields and for completion of the customs union to progress towards the creation of an integrated regional market and, in this way, towards strengthening the organisation of Mercosur.
The aim of the implementation of the future Association Agreement is to boost the regional integration process and to facilitate its enforcement, especially as regards trade (customs and trade facilitation, acceptance of international standards, etc.). The trade aspects and trade-related assistance are dealt with at Mercosur level in this RSP in accordance with its integration plans and not at the level of the Member States, although their specific features are nevertheless taken into account. The actions will relate to fostering market integration, production, food security and food hygiene, involving the creation of a phytosanitary area, and environmental protection.
The objective of the third priority is to strengthen and enhance civil society participation, knowledge of the regional integration process, mutual understanding and mutual visibility. Regional integration must receive the support of civil society to give new impetus to integration and establish its legitimacy. In parallel, reinforcing the visibility of the EU will make it better known as a political actor and example of integration beyond trade aspects alone. To do this, actions focus essentially on the creation of ten EU-Mercosur study centres, the introduction of an operational plan for education 2006-2010, the cinematographic and audiovisual sector, and the organisation of seminars and workshops to promote the exchange of experience.
Terms and conditions
This RSP consists of a Regional Indicative Programme (RIP), which is the programming document for the assistance based on actions identified to achieve the three priorities of the RSP. One RIP has been drawn up for the period 2007-2010 and another for the period 2011-2013. The RSP in this way supplements the CSPs drawn up for each Mercosur country and the RSP in favour of Latin America [FR]. The financing of the two RIPs comes to EUR 50 million, of which EUR 10 million is allocated to financing projects from the previous RSP (2002-2006) in favour of education and information society and EUR 40 million to institutional support (10 % of the funds), deepening Mercosur and implementation of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement (70 % of the funds) and civil society participation in the regional integration process (20 % of the funds). The present RSP comes under the financing instrument for development cooperation (DCI).
The activities receiving support are the following: assessments, programmes, strategies, studies, training, seminars, conferences, workshops, publications, statistics, training of staff and officials, creation of diplomas and study chairs, joint actions, dialogue, research, sub-regional cooperation and harmonisation of legislation and standards. Other activities will also be defined at the identification stage.
Results and success indicators are defined to measure the impact of the actions and projects. The partnerships formed, the activities carried out, the joint policies introduced, the food hygiene controls carried out, the meetings, conferences and studies organised or the pieces of legislation and standards harmonised are all indicators allowing effectiveness to be assessed.
The EU-Mercosur cooperation is based on the Interregional Framework Cooperation Agreement with Mercosur and is part of the achievement of the objectives of the Rio Summit and its developments, as well as the strengthened partnership with Latin America. In this way, it ensures continuation of the priorities, results and experience based on the previous RSP for the period 2002-2006 .
For further information, visit the website of the European External Action service.