Mercosur is currently facing one of its most serious institutional crisis since Paraguay’s suspension some years ago. With the end of the Uruguayan pro tempore presidency last Saturday, the natural successor on Mercosur’s leading position would be Venezuela, following the logical alphabetical order. However, Venezuelan command of the block is not an unanimity amongst the country’s members, especially among Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
The current internal quarrel is justified by the fact that, until today, Venezuela has not complied with the administrative and political commitments it has agreed in 2012, not to mention the internal strifes currently stirring the country’s internal political setting. In order to add some more spice in the situation, Uruguay has turned in the pro tempore presidency in order to allow Venezuela to take over. The other members of the block claim that the transfer of the presidency cannot be made without a formal transmission in a Mercosur summit and in the presence of the block’s highest authorities. Venezuela, on the contrary, argues that the alphabetic order is clear, automatic and indisputable, according to the Treaty of Asunción.
Until the situation unfolds and parties bring about a solution, Mercosur remains with its presidency vacant. This paralysis deriving from this dilemma can lead to a stagnation in the block’s committees and activities, such as advance in the Mercosur-EU negotiations, tariff reductions and adjustments in the external common tariff.
In order not to leave the block in inactive, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay suggested that the presidency be transferred directly to the next member in line (Argentina). The purpose is supported even by Venezuela’s political opposition, which advocates the country is not ready or in conditions to take over. The solution seems to be the most diplomatic and prudent at this time, avoiding the block’s sluggishness and the negative impact this would have on important multilateral matters, such as the FTA negotiations with the EU, Canada and other important economic partners.