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Flag of Mercosur

Member States of Mercosur
  • Full members
  • Suspended members
  • Candidate countries
  • Portuguese name Mercosul
    Organization type regional cooperation, internal market
    Seat of the organs Montevideo , UruguayUruguayUruguay 
    Chair President pro tempore Jair Bolsonaro
    Parliamentary Assembly Parliament of Mercosur (Parlamento del Mercosur)
    Member States 5 :
    Associate members
    Official and working languages
    surface 12.8 million km²
    population 260 million
    Population density 20.3 inhabitants per km²

    March 26, 1991
    (Treaty of Asunción)



    anthem differently
    Time zone UTC -5 to -3
    Mercosur 2005

    Mercosur ( Spanish [ ˌmeɾ.ko.ˈsuɾ ]) is the abbreviated name for the "Common Market of South America". The Spanish meaning for the abbreviation is Mercado Común del Sur (Common Market of the South). The also official Portuguese name is Mercosul for Mercado Comum do Sul , on Guaraní spoken in Paraguay , Ñemby Ñemuha is the common name.

    The organization was constituted by signing the Treaty of Asunción on March 26, 1991. It is a single market with more than 260 million people (as of 2006), which currently covers 12.8 million square kilometers, which is about 72% of the area South America or 56% of the area of Latin America . Mercosur has a gross domestic product of around one trillion US dollars (around 75% of the total GDP of the Latin American continent), in foreign trade the value of exports is around 200 billion US dollars and that of imports around 130 billion dollars.

    Member States and Associated States

    The members of Mercosur are:

    • ArgentinaArgentina Argentina
    • BrazilBrazil Brazil
    • ParaguayParaguay Paraguay
    • UruguayUruguay Uruguay
    • VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela (signed the accession on July 4, 2006 and joined Mercosur on July 31, 2012 at the summit in Rio, permanently suspended since December 1, 2016)

    Associated states are:

    • ChileChile Chile (1996)
    • BoliviaBolivia Bolivia (1997; applied for full membership, in the process of integration)
    • PeruPeru Peru (2003)
    • ColombiaColombia Colombia (2004)
    • EcuadorEcuador Ecuador (2004; applied for full membership in December 2011)
    • GuyanaGuyana Guyana (2015; treaties to be ratified)
    • SurinameSuriname Suriname (2015; treaties to be ratified)

    Observer states are:

    Talks on association began on July 8, 2004 with Mexico .

    Bolivia has repeatedly expressed interest in full membership since Evo Morales took office in early 2006. However, the realization of this project depends on the one hand on the continued existence of the Andean Community (CAN) and on the other hand on the outcome of a conflict with Brazil, which is related to the nationalization of gas and oil production in this country.

    In contrast, Uruguay questioned its own membership in 2006 in the wake of the conflict with Argentina over the construction of cellulose factories. The country sees its scope of action restricted by the Mercosur statutes, especially with regard to independent free trade agreements with other countries.

    As a result of the events surrounding the removal of President Fernando Lugo in June 2012, Paraguay was temporarily suspended until the new elections there in April 2013.

    According to the Protocolo de Ushuaia sobre Compromiso Democrático ( Ushuaia Protocol on Democracy), only democratic states can become members of Mercosur . This regulation is intended to prevent the Latin American countries from falling back into dictatorship .


    The uniform blue passports of the member states have on the inside of the cover - similar to the lettering in member states of the EU - above or below the name of the state the words "Mercosul" (Brazil) or "Mercosur" (all others).


    The objectives of Mercosur can be found in the preamble to the Treaty of Asunción. The contract names the following goals of the economic and political integration process :

    1. the enlargement of the national markets of the Member States as a fundamental condition for accelerating the economic development processes, taking into account social justice; this is to be achieved while respecting the protection of the environment and by improving the infrastructure between the Member States, by coordinating macroeconomic policies and by complementing sectoral policies;
    2. adequate integration of the member states into the international structure of the large economic blocs;
    3. promoting scientific and technical development in the Member States (this is intended to improve the supply and quality of goods and services, and thus improve living conditions) and
    4. the creation of an ever greater union between the peoples.

    According to Art. 1 of the Asunción Treaty, these goals should be achieved by the creation of a common market by December 31, 1994, which has the following characteristics:

    • the free movement of goods, services and factors of production between Member States; inter alia through the abolition of tariffs , non-tariff trade barriers and any other measures having equivalent effect;
    • the establishment of a common external tariff and the definition of a common trade policy towards third countries or groupings of states and the coordination of positions in regional and international economic forums;
    • the coordination of macroeconomic and sectoral policies between the member states, including: foreign trade policy, agricultural policy, industrial policy, fiscal, monetary, exchange rate and capital market policy, service policy, customs policy, transport policy, communication policy and other policies, agreed upon in order to create adequate conditions for competition between Member States; and
    • the commitment of the Member States to harmonize their legislation in the areas concerned in order to strengthen the integration process.

    After the development of Mercosur stalled somewhat at the end of the 1990s, a new stage in regional integration was heralded in 2000 by the member states, known as the “Relanzamiento del Mercosur” (restart of Mercosur). The aim of this is to strengthen the customs union internally and externally.

    The governments of the member states have therefore underlined the convergence and coordination of macroeconomics. The aim is to achieve sustainable fiscal and monetary policy in order to guarantee the stability of prices.

    Furthermore, after this restart, Mercosur will deal intensively with the following sub-areas:

    • Access to the markets
    • Speed ​​up customs clearance
    • Incentives in the areas of investment, production, export
    • common customs tariff
    • Competition law
    • Resolution of disputes
    • Implementation of Mercosur law in the Member States
    • Strengthening the institutional structure
    • External relations

    Problems of enlargement and deepening

    In connection with the expansion and deepening of the confederation of states, a multitude of problems arise that hinder these two processes.

    • On the one hand, there are the traditional rivalries, such as B. the one between Brazil and Argentina (this breaks up again in the discussion about the reform of the United Nations) or between Chile and Bolivia (access to the Pacific, saltpeter war ).
    • Furthermore, there is a country in Mercosur, Brazil, which, due to its size, could dominate the others. This makes it difficult to mitigate the effects of the aforementioned rivalry with Argentina.
    • One of the main points of conflict is currently the lack of a strategy for dealing with the USA ( FTAA ), which is likely to intensify since Venezuela's full membership - possibly at a later date also of Bolivia.
    • Members of Mercosur are prohibited from entering into bilateral free trade agreements with third countries. In Uruguay and Paraguay this leads to considerations to leave the confederation again.

    Venezuela crisis 2016

    The increasing restrictions on human rights and freedom of the press and the tampering of the opposition in Venezuela (see also: recall referendum in Venezuela 2016 ) led to a deep crisis for Mercosur in 2016. The rotating presidency of Mercosur by Venezuela was prevented, the Mercosur states (except Uruguay) declared in September 2016 that Venezuela's membership in Mercosur would be suspended without an improvement in political freedom. This deep division makes Mercosur largely incapable of acting.

    On December 2, 2016, it became known that the founding members Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay had decided that Venezuela could no longer belong to the alliance for the time being. Venezuela criticizes the exclusion as a "coup". Venezuela was excluded from Mercosur in early December 2016. The attempt by the unloaded Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez to attend the meeting on December 14, 2016 in Buenos Aires was prevented by police violence.


    Figure 1: Organs of Mercosur

    The Asunción Treaty of 1991 only had two organs and only very vaguely defined their functions during the transition period to the common market. This had the advantage that there was no need to adhere to rigid structures, which made it easier to continuously develop the integration process. The Ouro Preto Protocol of 1994 completed and specified the institutional structure of Mercosur in the sense that it

    • a) created new organs and
    • b) defined their characteristics and responsibilities.

    Article 1 of the Ouro Preto Protocol states that the Mercosur organs are:

    • El Consejo del Mercado Comun (CMC)
    • El Grupo Mercado Comun (GMC)
    • La Comisión de Comercio del Mercosur (CCM)
    • La Comisión Parlamentaria Conjunta (CPC)
    • El Foro Consultivo Económico-Social (FCES)
    • La Secretaría Administrativa del Mercosur (SAM)

    (See Figure 1)

    The first two bodies and the secretariat have existed since the signing of the contract. The Secretariat did not yet have the status of an organ in the Asunción Treaty, but was an administrative subsidiary body assigned to the GMC.

    There are no Mercosur summits in either the Asunción Treaty or the Ouro Preto Protocol. The summits are biannual meetings of the presidents of the Mercosur countries that take place at the same time as the meetings of the CMC. The summits emerged from a political initiative and have persisted by habit ever since. Article 6 of the Ouro Preto Protocol contains the only reference to the summits:

    "The Council of the Common Market meets whenever it deems it useful, at least one meeting per semester with the participation of the Presidents of the Member States is mandatory."

    History of Mercosur

    • 1991, March 26th: Signing of the Asunción Treaty
    • 1991, December 17th: Signing of the Brasília Protocol (Disagreement System)
    • 1994, August: Signing of the Buenos Aires Protocol
    • 1994, December 9th: signature of the Ouro Preto Protocol (institutional structure of Mercosur)
    • 1995, 7 December: adoption of the Mercosur 2000 program (action program)
    • 1995, December 15th: Signing of a framework agreement with the European Union
    • 1996, June 25th: signature of the Association Agreement with Chile
    • 1997: Signing of the Association Agreement with Bolivia
    • 1998, July 24th: Signing of the Ushuaia Protocol (commitment to democracy in Mercosur)
    • 2000, December 15: Presidential Declaration on the Fundamental Rights of Consumers in Mercosur (Declaración Presidencial de Derechos Fundamentales de los Consumidores del Mercosur)
    • 2001, June 22nd: Framework Agreement on the Environment
    • 2002 February 18: Signing of the Olivos Minutes (Disagreement System)
    • 2003, August 26th: Signing of the Association Agreement with Peru
    • 2003, December 15: Action Program 2004–2006
    • 2003, December 16: Signing of a free trade agreement between Mercosur and the Andean Community . The free trade zone should apply from July 1, 2004.
    • 2005, December 9th: Venezuela was granted observer status without voting rights.
    • 2006, July 4th: Venezuela signed to join Mercosur. Ratification by the parliaments of Brazil and Paraguay is still pending in September 2010.
    • 2007 May 7th: first session of the Mercosur Parliament.
    • 2007, May 22nd: At a meeting of the Mercosur countries, Bolivia and Ecuador in Paraguay, it was decided to found a bank of the south independent of the IMF and the World Bank . To date (September 2010) the treaty has not been ratified by the parliaments of any member state.
    • 2010, August 2nd: the Mercosur Council of Ministers decided to create a human rights institute. The headquarters of the organization is the former technical school of the Navy of Argentina , which served as a secret prison and largest torture center in the country from 1976 to 1983.
    • 2016, December: Venezuela is excluded.

    Mercosur and FTAA

    The Mercosur countries see themselves as a countervailing power to the USA in the negotiations for a pan-American free trade area ( FTAA ). There are considerable conflicts of interest between the two blocks: While the USA v. a. While the Clinton administration was pushing for tariff cuts soon, the Latin American states wanted to negotiate this as a final step.

    Mercosur and EU

    Mercosur and the European Union signed an association agreement on December 15, 1995 , which represents a preliminary stage for the signing of a free trade agreement. In 2004 the negotiations on this free trade agreement were at an advanced stage and the conclusion of the negotiations in autumn 2004 was optimistically expected. However, access to the European market for agricultural products from the Mercosur countries remained a major point of contention. Since 2004, negotiations have only been carried out on a technical level, and a deepening is only expected if the then suspended Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is successful .

    The EU offer to Mercosur in 2004 looked like this:

    Quotas (in tons) after completion of the
    Products Mercosur negotiations WTO negotiations
    Bioethanol 500,000 500,000
    Corn 400,000 300,000
    wheat 100,000 100,000
    High quality beef 50,000 50,000
    Poultry products 37,500 37,500
    pork meat 6,000 6,000
    Bananas 30,000 0
    Milk powder 6,500 6,500
    cheese 10,000 10,000
    rice 20,000 20,000

    Source: European Commission

    However, Mercosur members were still far from satisfied with this proposal. The EU offer was tied to conditions. For example, the Mercosur member states should abolish customs duties on almost all industrial products within ten years. The duty on products whose duty is now below 4% should be abolished immediately.

    However, waiting for the Doha Round did not meet expectations, and after several unsuccessful attempts, the Doha Round in 2016 was considered a failure.

    In 2017, the EU Commission offered the Mercosur countries more relaxed control standards for food imports - if Europe is allowed to export more cars.

    At the end of June 2019, an agreement was reached on the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur. When entered into force, the agreement would form the basis for the largest free trade area in the world. Representatives of German industrial associations welcomed the agreement, as the sales opportunities for companies increase. Joachim Rukwied , President of the German Farmers' Association , criticized the agreement because he feared it would distort competition to the detriment of European farms. Katharina Dröge from the Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen party feared that the agreement could lead to a further increase in the clearing of the rainforest in the Amazon region.

    The negotiated draft contract failed at the beginning of 2020 due to Austria's rejection . On January 12, 2020, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz asked the EU Commission to renegotiate the free trade agreement. Like other EU countries, Austria was “rightly not satisfied” with the agreement, he said after a meeting with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen . He was "curious to see whether another agreement can be reached here" and said, "the way the agreement is now, it will not come."

    Mercosur and EFTA

    The states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), consisting of Iceland , Liechtenstein , Norway and Switzerland , plan to sign the free trade agreement with Mercosur in 2020.

    The EU's concern is likely to become a point of contention in Switzerland too. Because when it comes to meat imports, the most diverse interests collide. Swiss farmers are still well protected from this competition , but a change is under discussion. This would be difficult for the farmers, but it would have advantages for the consumers . The so-called “Mercosur Summit” took place on February 20, 2018, in which the Swiss Farmers' Association did not take part. On the side of the proponents is z. B. the Swiss Trade Association , since the SMEs could otherwise suffer sales losses of over 10%. The substance of the negotiations was concluded at the end of August 2019.


    See also


    • Samuel A. Arieti: The Role of MERCOSUR as a Vehicle for Latin American Integration , in: Chicago Journal of International Law 6 (2005/2006) pp. 761-773.
    • Susanne Gratius: Mercosur - center of gravity in South America? In: Bodemer / Gratius (ed.): Latin America in the international system. Between regionalism and globalization. Opladen 2003, ISBN 3-8100-4025-8
    • Silvia Hunger: The free trade area between Mercosur and the EU. Cooperation marked by obstacles. Saarbrücken 2008, ISBN 978-3-639-09555-5
    • Wolfram Klein: The Mercosur. Economic integration, entrepreneurs and trade unions. Freiburg 1996, ISBN 3-928597-18-3
    • Ingo Malcher: Mercosur in the world economy. A peripheral trading community in neoliberal globalization. Baden-Baden 2005, ISBN 3-8329-1266-5
    • Marcos Augusto Maliska: The supranationality in Mercosul. The transfer of sovereignty and the problem of democratic legitimacy . In: Yearbook of the Public Law of the Present, New Series / Vol. 56, 2008, pp. 639–654.
    • Marcel Vaillant: Mercosur. Southern Integration under Construction. In: International Politics and Society. Issue 2, 2005. ISSN  0945-2419
    • Ulrich Wehner: The Mercosur. Legal issues and functionality of a new type of integration project and the prospects for success of interregional cooperation with the European Union. Baden-Baden 1999, ISBN 3-7890-6026-7
    • Danilo Zimbres: The Mercosur after the return to democracy: a social constructivist approach to understanding the formation of MERCOSUR In: .

    Individual evidence

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    5. Bolivia full incorporation to Mercosur now rests on legislative approval from other members. In: May 6, 2013, accessed January 12, 2020 .
    6. Irina Poprawa: Mercosur begins negotiations on the accession of Ecuador. In: August 7, 2012, accessed January 12, 2020 .
    7. Mercosur excludes Paraguay , APA in of June 29, 2012
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    10. ^ Scandal over Venezuela's exclusion from Mercosur meetings, December 14, 2016, accessed December 15, 2016.
    11. Human rights authority at a historic location. In: amerika21. September 6, 2010, accessed September 6, 2010 .
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    14. EU trade with South America: Swap stinkers against rotten meat In:, December 7, 2017, accessed on December 8, 2017.
    15. ^ Holger Romann: The largest free trade zone in the world. In: . June 29, 2019. Retrieved June 29, 2019 .
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    17. Industry euphoric, farmers angry. In: . June 30, 2019, accessed June 30, 2019 .
    18. EU deal with South America farmers' association sees family businesses threatened by free trade agreements , Der Spiegel June 29, 2019.
    19. Greens: Mercosur Agreement "fatal decision for climate protection and human rights". In: The star. June 29, 2019, archived from the original on April 18, 2020 ; accessed on August 18, 2020 .
    20. Briefly requested renegotiation from the EU Commission. In: . January 12, 2020, accessed January 12, 2020 .
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    Web links

    Commons : Mercosur  - collection of images, videos and audio files