In the middle of the UNASUR crisis, the Bolivian president proposed that Latin American countries be integrated in the same way as the European Union
The president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, has proposed that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, by its acronym in Spanish) be relaunched with the same model as the European Union. Its proposal is ambiguous and not very innovative, since UNASUR already had as a model the process of European integration. Morales has said that in this re-launch work will be done to create a true South American identity, including citizenship and that the member countries can choose their representatives to the UNASUR Parliament, although he did not elaborate on it.
Is the level of integration proposed by the Bolivian president possible?
UNASUR officially started in 2011 (the same year as the Pacific Alliance), although it was planned since 2004. From its origin it was thought of as a kind of European Union. However, it did not consider important aspects that limit its development and that Evo Morales ignores:
- According to the Economic Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the level of development of the member countries is uneven, since the economic weight of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Colombia is seriously contrasting with that of the rest of the members. However, within the four countries mentioned there are also great inequalities. In the European Union, the difference between rich countries such as Germany or France compared to those of central Europe is lower than that registered in South America. The EU has strict income requirements, compensated with funds to support the development of candidate countries with unfavorable conditions. With this they seek that inequalities have the least possible impact when entering.
- Full democracy is a requirement to be a member of the European Union, it does not matter if the candidate to join is a monarchy (like Spain or Sweden) or a republic (like Portugal, Ireland or France). According to the Constitution Charter of the European Union, if a country does not guarantee democracy it cannot be part of the European Union, therefore the entry of Portugal and Spain was possible until the end of the dictatorships. In the South American case, the political and ideological instability of governments complicates establishing common fronts. The stability of Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Peru contrasts with that of Venezuela and Bolivia, which are denounced as dictatorships. In the middle are the cases of Brazil and Argentina that present ups and downs as a result of the crisis of the left.
- Nationalism: According to recent developments with the turn to the other right, although there are strong nationalisms in the European Union, it have managed to find the formula to create strong institutions that regulate specific issues, such as the European Central Bank, the European Parliament, the Courts of Justice and the European Commission, for example.
- Investment: In the EU, members invest large amounts for the budget equivalent to 1% of European GDP, in accordance with the Charter of the European Union, so if UNASUR aims to achieve efficiency it will have to invest large amounts of money to those that neither in Europe or in South America is easy to deliver. This also applies to the monetary policies that need to be applied, creating a common currency is a difficult step, so much that not all EU members use the euro. It would require monetary stability and strict control of the members of UNASUR to make a currency possible, which would also face the dollar and the euro.
- Too many processes in the region: In Latin America there are several similar processes such as MERCOSUR, the Andean Community and the Pacific Alliance, just to mention a few. The problem is greater when it is considered that the members of UNASUR are part of these three examples and others, which implies greater management, bureaucracy, investment and diplomacy, which in some cases is redundant.
Latin American Post | Luis Angel Hernández Liborio
Translated from "¿Es posible la integración al estilo europeo que propone Evo Morales?"