The Caribbean Community and Common Market or CARICOM was established by the Treaty of Chaguaramas which came into effect on August 1, 1973. The principle objective of CARICOM is to achieve economic integration, co-ordination of foreign policy, and functional co-operation of member states.  To achieve this aim, provisions were inserted into the treaty to provide for the free movement of persons (Art. 38) and capital (Art. 37), and also the freedom to provide services and rights to establishment (Art. 36).

CARICOM replaced the Caribbean Free Trade Agreement which itself replaced the West Indies Confederation. This confederation, though short-lived paved the way for political integration in the Caribbean. CARICOM has revives that sentiment. Currently, the community has fifteen full member states , and five associate members.

In this essay I shall analyse the community based on it's by comparing its structure and formation with that of the European Union and by discussing the framework of CARICOM compared to that of the EU. This approach has been motivated by the fact that the European Union is the world's largest and most successfully organized regional confederation of sovereign states. It is a success for democracy, regionalism and political unification.

Reasons for Formation
WWII proved to be that catalyst that pushed Europe towards a system of co-operation. For peace to be guaranteed, a structure of stability was deemed necessary. The leaders of Europe's most influential countries began a process of uniting their countries politically and socially to secure a lasting peace. It was felt that an environment of interdependence could secure a peace in a continent that was ravaged by war for centuries. Also, through the vehicle of interdependence, economic growth and prosperity was to be realized, which in turn furthered the cause of peace and concord.

In contrast, the Caribbean Community rose from the ashes of the West Indies Federation which was a British formed federation of colonies. The intention was that the federation would become an independent state, in response to calls for independence from many islands. The federation ceased due to political disputes. However, the dissolution of the Federation only served to encourage the Caribbean's political leaders to promote closer integration and strengthen the areas of cooperation that existed during the Federation.  According to the Caribbean Community's Secretariat, the Caribbean Free Trade Agreement (CARIFTA), from which CARICOM emerged, was based on the premise of uniting economies and forming a joint presence on the international scene.

Thus there existed two dissimilar motives for the formation of these two regional, intergovernmental unions. While the role of the EU has morphed radically over the years to economic and political unity, these ideas have been central to CARICOM schema since inception. In the case of CARICOM, for such a small community, alliance and the projection of a united front are essential if member states aspire for recognition and respect on the world political stage. Debilitating forces of smallness and vulnerability compelled the region to integrate. In recent years the threat of globalisation bonds the region closer together and enhances solidarity.

Single Market
Since internal trade barriers were abolished within the EEC in 1967, the establishment of a truly free and single market has always been important in Europe.  The Single European Act of 1986 removed barriers to the free movement of labour, capital, goods and services. In 1992, with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, the EC officially became a single market.

Three years after the ratification of the Single European Act, CARICOM began the promotion of a similar strategy to formulate a single market for the Caribbean. In July 1989, the Conference of Heads of Government met in Grenada and devised the CARICOM Single Market and Economy or CSME. The plans drew heavily on the achievements of the European Union. The main provision required that CARICOM moves from a common market to a single market.

Motivated by the EU's "Free Movement of Capital" doctrine and the success of the launch of the euro, the community intends to mint a common Caribbean currency by 2008. CARICOM's objective is to mimic the monetary stability and trade enhancement facilitated by the euro in Europe. Also, in pursuance of this goal they have recently introduced a Double Taxation Agreement in accordance with similar laws in the EU.

Observing the similar patterns of developing a single market, it is certainly justifiable to assert that CARICOM has undoubtedly been influenced tremendously by the success in Europe of single market policies. The resemblance of policies is unmistakable.

Again, mirroring the European Union, CARICOM is also progressing towards freedom of movement. By decree, residents are guaranteed the right to freely move within the EU's internal borders.  A new CARICOM passport has recently been issued in Surinam and will be eventually integrated fully in the region. Perhaps the most enterprising step is the aim to make CARICOM a Single Domestic Space in time for the Cricket World Cup, 2007. The event will be a trial period for free movement between the community members and is expected to "enhance CARICOM's ongoing efforts to promote the phased freedom of Community nationals to live and work across the region, and not just hassle-free intra-regional travels".

Pioneered by the EU, there is a significant need for free-movement in the Caribbean Community. Not only does it allow for greater personal employment opportunities in the region, but it will also enhance deeper cross community integration and social ties between CARICOM's 15m population.

Less Developed Countries & EU Structural Funds
Regional policy has been an important part of the European Union's economic strategy. This has been particularly true since 1988, when the system of fund allocation was reformed and financial aid for Europe's poorest regions was doubled. These poor regions were categorized as Objective 1 areas. They were considered to be part of region 1 if their economic status was less than 75% of the union average.  The fund helped countries like Ireland and Sweden become the luminaries of Europe.

A similar approach has been adopted by CARICOM. Article 3 of the Treaty of Chaguaramas separated the region between More Developed Countries  (MDCs) and Less Developed Countries (LDCs). A Regional Development Fund of the Caribbean Community - is provided for in Article 158 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

However it is not operational yet and there is no temporary strategy in place to reconcile the inequality between member states. The Prime Minister of Barbados, Owen Arthur, suggests the fund should be similar in scope and intent to that successfully established by the European Union to reduce disparities between member nations.  Emulation of European success is evidently desired.

Legal Framework
The European Court of Justice was established in 1951. It is the supreme court of Europe and has jurisdiction over interpretation of EU law.

The Caribbean Court of Justice was established in 1970. In similarity with the ECJ, the CCJ applies international law standards to the interpretation of the Treaty Establishing the Caribbean Community. However, in contrast, the CCJ also acts as the ultimate court of appeal in civil and criminal cases. This capacity is facilitated by the fact that CARICOM has a significantly lower population than the EU {15m compared to 460m}.

Unlike the ECJ who's main intention is equality and fairness for member states and citizens, the CCJ's purpose is clearly intended for external validation. A report on the workings of the CCJ states the following. "The Caribbean Community is not known for significant capital accumulation. Consequently, it is largely a capital importing Region. Foreign investors seeking to invest normally prefer a stable macro-economic environment based on predictable laws in order to determine outcomes."  The report goes on to state that the CCJ is and will continue to be primarily responsible for achieving this goal.

The Caribbean Community is a constantly evolving economic and political organisation. Obviously, due to word constraints, a number of similarities and contrasts have been overlooked such as CARICOM's common health, education and disaster preparedness. However, what is clear is that CARICOM is certainly, to a large extent, influenced by the organisation and administration of the European Union. One can see that the history of the region and the influence of European states has been important in the development of the Caribbean and are as potent today as ever. Britain, France, Spain and Holland whom all had a presence in the region now are major powers in the EU.

The move towards regional integration remains strong in the Caribbean despite mishap . It is a necessary step to create strategic solidarity in the region. Though modelling itself on the EU, the Caribbean has its own challenges is being shaped to create its own unique proviso and thus its own distinctive identity.

There are several example to cite in which the organization has been successful in meeting its primary objective of an improved standard of living for the people of the region. However, to emulate the success of the EU various modifications and improvements must be made. An appropriate system of solidifying agreement is inoperative and a Common External Tariff, which one might assume to be fundamental to a common market, is not yet fully implemented.

This essay demonstrates that though CARICOM may have developed as a parallel to the EU, it still faces challenges as it matures into the 21st century.

Despite this, it shines as a beacon of hope in the region. Perhaps its greatest advantage is that it encourages intra-regional trade and allows CARICOM states to negotiate as a single entity. This will afford them a better opportunity to influence policies concerning global trade. Perhaps the region may soon be a force to reckon with in the next round of World Trade negotiations.

List of References


"        Bache, I. "Multi-level Governance and European Union Regional Policy", in Bache, I & Flinders, M. (Eds.), "Multi Level Governance", Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004, pg.165

"        Gonzalez, A.P., "Recent Trends in International Economic Relations of the CARICOM States", Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 31, No.3, Special Issue: The International Dynamics of the Commonwealth Caribbean. (Autumn, 1989), pp 63-95.

"        Griffith, W.H., "CARICOM Countries and the Caribbean Basin Initiative", Latin American Perspectives: Caribbean Crises and Global Restructuring, Vol. 17, No. 1, (Winter, 1990), pp. 33-54.

"        Jones, P.W., "Caribbean Court of Justice: Caribbean integration or Disintegration?" Economic Development Institute, Global Thinking Research, Vol. V, (November 2004), pg. 17

"        Lewis, D.E., "The Latin Caribbean and Regional Co-operation: A Survey of Challenges and Opportunities", Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs, Vol. 37, No. 4. (Winter, 1995), pp.25-55.

"        Sackey, J.A., "The Structure and Performance of CARICOM: Lessons for the Development of ECOWAS", Canadian Journal of African Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2. (1978), pp 259-277

"        Simmonds, K.R., "The Caribbean Economic Community: A New Venture in Regional Integration", The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 2. (Apr., 1974), pp. 453-458.

"        Will, W.M., "A Nation Divided: The Quest for Caribbean Integration", Latin American Research Review, Vol, 26, No. 2. (1991), pp. 3-37

Electronic Resources

"        Jessop, D., "A Week in Europe" The Caribbean Council, 2005, Available at:

"        CARICOM Online, "History of the Caribbean Community", Available at:

"        The Caribbean Community Secretariat Online, "The Caribbean Free Trade Association", Available at:

"        Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, "CARICOM Countries Need to Keep to Their Agreements"  (February 2002), Accessed at:

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