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Regional Migration Governance and the Free Movement of Persons in Mercosur and the European Union in Comparative Perspective

European Union
Integration
Latin America
Migration
Regionalism
Comparative Perspective
Member States
Leiza Brumat
European University Institute
Leiza Brumat
European University Institute

Abstract

The free movement of persons is one of the most fundamental, visible and controversial aspects of Regional Integration (RI) schemes. The European Union constitutes the most advanced case of free movement policies, for which it is usually characterized as ‘unique’. However, South America is the region that presents RI projects, processes, and products that are the most developed after the EU and its mobility regime is, in some significant aspects, comparable to the European one (Lavenex et al. 2015, 463). Here we adopt a perspective that will help us to move Regional Integration and free movement debates beyond Eurocentric, EU-centred and anti-EU model analyses and explore the comparable aspects of the free movement regime in both regions. By looking at the ideas and understandings of free movement that influenced policy outcomes in both regions we will argue that while in the first 'generation' of norms both regions shared some technical aspects, vocabulary and ideas, in the 'second generation' of norms the policies for the free movement of persons in South America were ‘decoupled’ from the process of economic integration and did not build from the European experience. While some “European” concepts and language were still used, the meaning and understanding that Mercosur policymaking actors had of them were totally different, and even built in opposition to the European ones. This has to do with Mercosur’s formation of an international identity and is also a means for achieving more autonomy (Acharya 2016).