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História

Delegation for relations with Mercosur (DMER)

For many years, the European Parliament's Delegation for relations with South America was responsible for building links with the Mercosur trade and customs union and the countries that composed it.

From the moment Mercosur was founded, in 1991, the bloc represented a privileged and familiar partner for Europe in South America. Like the EU, Mercosur adopted a model of regional integration based on trade and extending to other areas. In 1994, the European Commission published a document ("The European Community and Mercosur: An Enhanced Community") that advocated creating a deeper partnership between the two blocs.

The blossoming bilateral relationship encouraged the European Parliament to focus its own efforts on Mercosur, and in 1996, the "Delegation for Relations with South America" became the "Delegation for Relations with South America and Mercosur".

A new delegation and parliament

An independent "Delegation for relations with Mercosur" was created by the Parliament in 2004, at the beginning of the sixth legislative term (2004-2009).

Three years later, in 2007, Mercosur inaugurated its own parliament, Parlasur (or Parlasul), composed of 81 members from the Mercosur countries. This parliamentary extension of the bloc presented the European Parliament with a parallel structure.

The first meeting between MEPs and Mercosur parliamentarians was held in Brussels in May 2008. Since then, two parliaments have gradually strengthened their contacts and exchanges.

Advances in the wider bilateral relationship between the EU and Mercosur did not, however, mirror developments in the parliamentary relationship. Although the EU and Mercosur had opened negotiations on an Association Agreement in 2000, trade negotiations had proved problematic. Negotiations were broken off in 2004, re-launched in 2010, and paused again in 2012.

Since 2016, the two sides are again fully engaged in discussions and hope to finish the negotiations by the 2019 EP elections. Members of the DMER delegation have followed the talks attentively, both in their ordinary meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg, and during inter-parliamentary encounters with their Mercosur counterparts.

Countries in the remit

In addition to working with Mercosur, the DMER delegation develops contacts and addresses issues with the individual countries in the bloc.

Currently, these countries are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. While most of these countries have created a parliamentary "Friendship Group" with the EU, these groups do not constitute a standing, institutional presence equivalent to the European Parliament's delegations. They can rather be considered a first step towards an institutional relationship.

Venezuela, which joined the bloc in 2012, was suspended at the end of 2016. Nonetheless, the DMER delegation continues to monitor the dramatic situation in the country.

Another country once in the delegation's remit, Brazil, is no longer a focus for DMER. In 2014, the Parliament established a separate Delegation for relations with the Federative Republic of Brazil.