Mercosur’s Unsettling 30th Anniversary and the Challenge of Keeping it Relevant

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Mercosur celebrates its 30 years amid criticism and debate. As with any multi-dimensional regional process, the assessment of its success or failure depends on the lens we choose to “capture the moment”: the neoliberal lens or the developmental lens. Nowadays, the first one gains leverage in settling the short-term agenda as the States focus regional discussion on common external tariff and the “flexibilisation” of the external trade negotiations agenda. Beyond these topics, what challenges does the Covid-19 age -and the period after- present in keeping Mercosur still relevant? This piece argues that four challenges should be addressed: 1) institutional issues –mainly normative effectiveness 2) regional economic recovery and how external actors play their roles –China, for instance 3) “green swans” in the regional agenda -climate change and global health 4) building a real “unity project” beyond members’ political divergences.