What is MERCOSUR?
The Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR for its Spanish initials) is a regional integration process, initially established by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and subsequently joined by Venezuela and Bolivia* -the latter still complying with the accession procedure.
Its official working languages are Spanish and Portuguese. The working documents’ official version will be that of the host country language of each meeting. As of 2006, through the Decision CMC No. 35/06, Guarani was incorporated as one of the languages of the Bloc.
MERCOSUR is an open and dynamic process. Since its creation, its main objective has been to promote a common space that generates business and investment opportunities through the competitive integration of national economies into the international market. As a result, it has established multiple agreements with countries or groups of countries, granting them, in some cases, the status of Associated States – this being the situation of the South American countries. These participate in activities and meetings of the Bloc and have trade preferences with the States Parties. MERCOSUR has also signed commercial, political or cooperation agreements with a diverse number of nations and organizations on all five continents.
* The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is suspended in all the rights and obligations inherent to its status as a State Party of MERCOSUR, in accordance with the provisions of the second paragraph of the Article 5 of the Protocol of Ushuaia.
** The Plurinational State of Bolivia is in the process of accession.
Since its origins, MERCOSUR has been based on the principles of Democracy and Economic Development, which underpins the core values of a human-faced integration. Aligned with these, different agreements have been added in terms of migratory, labour, cultural, and social matters -just to mention a few, which are of utmost importance for its inhabitants.
These agreements meant the incorporation of the Citizen, Social and Productive Integration dimensions. For this to be achieved, it was necessary to adapt and expand the institution’s structure throughout the region by meeting new demands and deepening the effective participation of the citizenship. Moreover, it had to equip itself with its own financing mechanisms, such as the MERCOSUR Fund for the Structural Convergence (FOCEM), amongst other funds.
Through an annual contribution of over $100 million dollars, FOCEM funds projects aimed at promoting competitiveness, social cohesion and the reduction of asymmetries among members involved in the process.
MERCOSUR full potential is immeasurable and can be found in the most diverse areas. Its territory of almost 15 million km² consists of a great variety of natural wealth and treasures which humanity possesses: water, biodiversity, energy resources and fertile lands. Its greatest asset, nevertheless, is its people. Thanks to a population of over 295 million people, it has an invaluable heritage of cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity, which coexists harmoniously making MERCOSUR a region of peace and development.
Treaty of Asunción: MERCOSUR is born
Protocol of Ouro Preto: Institutional foundation of MERCOSUR
Protocol of Ushuaia: Democratic Commitment
MERCOSUR declaration as a Zone of Peace and Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Protocol of Olivos: Dispute Settlement
Regulation of the Protocol of Olivos: Creation of the Permanent Review Tribunal (TPR)
Constitutive Protocol of the MERCOSUR Parliament (PARLASUR)
Venezuela adheres to MERCOSUR
Creation of the MERCOSUR Social Institute (ISM)
Creación del Instituto de Políticas Públicas en Derechos Humanos del MERCOSUR (IPPDH)
Criação do Instituto de Políticas Públicas em Direitos Humanos do MERCOSUL (IPPDH)
Creation of the Institute of Public Policies on Human Rights (IPPDH)
Creation of the Social Participation Unit (UPS)
Bolivia adheres to MERCOSUR
Intra-MERCOSUR Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Protocol
MERCOSUR without frontiers
Approved in 2002 by Decision CMC No. 17/02 “Symbols of MERCOSUR”, MERCOSUR emblem/logotype features the four stars of the Southern Cross constellation on a curved green line symbolizing the horizon, and above it, the word MERCOSUR/ MERCOSUL. The Southern Cross has been and remains to this day, the main element of navigation in the Southern Hemisphere, which stands for the optimistic course of this organisation working towards the regional integration.