RGW - Nature of Operation

Nature of Operation

Comecon was an interstate organization through which members attempted to coordinate economic activities of mutual interest and to develop multilateral economic, scientific, and technical cooperation:

  • The Charter (1959) stated that "the sovereign equality of all members" was fundamental to the organization and procedures of Comecon.
  • The Comprehensive Program further emphasized that the processes of integration of members' economies were "completely voluntary and do not involve the creation of supranational bodies." Hence under the provisions of the Charter, each country had the right to equal representation and one vote in all organs of Comecon, regardless of the country's economic size or the size of its contribution to Comecon's budget.
  • From 1967, the "interestedness" provisions of the Charter reinforced the principle of "sovereign equality." Comecon's recommendations and decisions could be adopted only upon agreement among the interested members, and each had the right to declare its "interest" in any matter under consideration.
  • Furthermore, in the words of the Charter (as revised in 1967), "recommendations and decisions shall not apply to countries that have declared that they have no interest in a particular matter."
  • Although Comecon recognized the principle of unanimity, from 1967 disinterested parties did not have a veto but rather the right to abstain from participation. A declaration of disinterest could not block a project unless the disinterested party's participation was vital. Otherwise, the Charter implied that the interested parties could proceed without the abstaining member, affirming that a country that had declared a lack of interest "may subsequently adhere to the recommendations and decisions adopted by the remaining members of the Council." However, a member country could also declare an "interest" and exercise a veto.

Over the years of its functioning, Comecon acted more as an instrument of mutual economic assistance than a means of economic integration, with multilateralism as an unachievable goal.

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