The social dimension of Mercosur

Pucheta, Mauro (2014) The social dimension of Mercosur. Centre for European Law and Legal Studies, 3(5), pp. 1-27.


The Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR in Spanish) is one of the most important trade blocs around the world - it is the third largest integrated market after the EU and NAFTA, which is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela. It was set up in 1991 with the principal aim to establish free movement of goods, capital, services and people among its Member States. Its ultimate purpose has been and still is to create a Common Market. It should be pointed out that MERCOSUR was created in a context where neo-liberalism prevailed. Therefore, its objectives and methods were pervaded with an economic rationale that shaped the way MERCOSUR has addressed the social issues. This paper argues that there were two main reasons for creating the MERCOSUR social dimension in spite of these origins: on the one hand, in spite of the minimal influence of the economic integration into the national legal orders due to its inter-governmental character, MERCOSUR Member States were aware of the need for a creation of a social dimension. On the other hand, crises and major political changes changed the perception of the integration process and underlined the necessity of a stronger social integration. Given this evolution, the paper argues that MERCOSUR?s social dimension has developed considerably, while much still remains to be done. However, the development of the social rules has an intrinsic limit, which is the inter-governmental feature of MERCOSUR. A major reform seems necessary in order to address efficiently the new social issues arisen in this context of crisis. This paper is organized as follows. It first explains the structure of MERCOSUR and its methodological approach as an intergovernmental organisation. I then analyse the social dimension of MERCOSUR, both its rationale and its structure. Furthermore, I study the social policies developed; I explore specifically the MERCOSUR Social Program, the Free Movement of Work rules, the Socio-Labour Declaration, and the redistribution mechanisms. Finally, I consider MERCOSUR's response to the different crises.

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