Integration 'On Pause' at the Caribbean Community

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 6/06/2011 12:04:00 AM
To keep you up to date with other integration projects--this is the international political economy zone, after all--consider the fate of the Caribbean Community. If you think processes of Asian economic integration are going more slowly than ideal like yours truly, what more the Caribean Community's Common Single Market and Economy (CSME) which has ground to a virtual standstill by its own admission? To be sure, CARICOM has worthwhile aims such as erasing migration barriers for tertiary degree holders wishing to work in these fair islands. Still, alike many other regional integration projects--in Asia, the Middle East, you name it--let's just say attention is not focused on the political impediments to achieving ever closer union as the EU used to proclaim.

Rickey Singh offers this commentary after CARICOM heads of state gathered for a retreat (sadly, an especially apt term for integration efforts) in Mazaruni, Guyana and put integration processes "on pause":
It was simply awful public relations for the Heads to have issued a two-page statement on their retreat, through the Community Secretariat (on May 22) headlined: 'Caricom Leaders Focus on Prosperity for the People'. Then, by the following day, for the public to learn of a statement from incoming new chairman, Prime Minister Denzil Douglas of St Kitts and Nevis, that the Heads of Government have agreed that inauguration of the CSME "will now take longer than anticipated".

How long would this "longer" period be? And why the glib talk about placing "greater focus on prosperity of the people" in the absence of referencing any new approach in their conduct of the community's business; or any specific project/ programme to inspire the promised "re-energising" process?

Further, why have they failed to offer even a two-paragraph response on their initial thinking of the 10-page working document on "Re-energising Caricom Integration" that they had in their possession long before flying into Guyana for the two-day retreat?

To add to the agony, the Caricom leaders apparently felt they were saying something new when they piously announced that, as regards the single economy they "recognised that the process towards full implementation would take longer than anticipated".
The Jamaica Observer ups the concern factor by stating CARICOM itself is at risk. Change the places and names concerning gridlock and this could be true of any integration project you can to name:
Theirs was a shared vision of the region benefitting economically and socially from a strong and united Caricom. And while we are not here suggesting that the current Heads of Government are not committed to that ideal, we can't ignore the possibility that they lack the drive to ensure that Caricom does not lose momentum.

That, we believe, is contributing to lingering scepticism among Caribbean people about the regional movement, as far too often decisions are not followed up by actions to ensure implementation. And even when policies are implemented, we have seen in a few instances disregard by some member governments for the agreements.

We accept that economic unions are difficult to manage, especially for the fact that each member state comes to the union with its own needs and ideas... and notions of sovereignty. But the European Union, despite the challenges that it faces, is testament to the fact that economic and political partnerships can work. And if the Europeans can make a reasonable success of it with 27 nations, there's no reason why 15 much smaller states in the Caribbean can't do the same.

We sincerely hope that our current leaders are not now sounding the death knell for Caricom.
Starboek News also offers informative commentary. You begin to appreciate what the EU has done, warts and all, and how it has persevered in the face of adversity. It remains a model the rest of us aspire to and for that and we certainly wish it well. As for CARICOM, this occasional reggae listener needn't add: they're tellin' you da truth, mon!