Brazil’s Lula Inaugurates Mercosur Parliament and Declares FTAA Dead

    Despite constant trade disputes Mercosur this Thursday found respite and motive to celebrate with the official inauguration of the block’s Parliament in Brazil.

    Since Brazil currently holds the Mercosur chair the inaugural session took place in the Brazilian Senate. Although initially the Mercosur parliament is not empowered to legislate or overrule regional legislative branches, the long term agreement is the harmonization of the five full members’ legislation and a long stride towards integration.

    The founding of the Mercosur Parliament was agreed at the December 2004 presidential summit and "is still very small, an embryo, but who among us was not born small?, who among us didn’t start from zero?" said President Lula da Silva during the opening speech in the Federal Congress.

    And despite all the criticism from inside and outside, the Mercosur Parliament with all its limitations is "a display of vitality", emphasized Lula.

    "I recall," the Brazilian president told during the ceremony, "that when I took office, there were voices saying that Mercosur had finished, that we needed to consolidate the FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas) because the Mercosur would not survive.

    "Today, if we analyze it well, nobody, except for a few who long for bygone days, talk about FTAA anymore. It disappeared from the Brazilian press and from the presidents meetings."

    The route map for the Mercosur Parliament begins this month with a transition period to decide on its agenda and how it will operate.

    Each of the five member countries will have 18 members, elected by their own parliaments and who under a program elaborated by the Mercosur Joint Parliamentary Committee will have until December 2010 to elaborate on details.

    In a second leg extending until 2014, members will be elected by universal secret ballot in each of the full member countries.

    The first formal session is scheduled for March 2007 in Montevideo, which will be the seat of Mercosur Parliament.

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