Bolivia Starts Process to Join Mercosur at Brazil’s Summit

The Common Market Council, comprised of foreign ministers and ministers of economy of the Mercosur countries, decided to fulfill Bolivian president Evo Morales' request, placed on December 21st, for his country to enter the bloc. Mercosur in holding in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, its annual summit.

For such, a workgroup will be formed by representatives of the bloc's member countries and of Bolivia in order to define the terms of integration. A period of 180 days was set for conclusion of the works.

The Council also decided to establish the Mercosur Social Institute (ISM), to be based in Assunción, Paraguay, whose general objectives will be "contributing to the consolidation of social issues as key to the development of Mercosur."

Other goals will be to collaborate on the elaboration of regional social policies; to systematize and update regional social indicators; to promote the exchange of best practices in the social field; to promote cooperation mechanisms; and to identify sources of funding.

In order to strengthen democracy in the region, the Council also decided to establish the Mercosur Democracy Observatory (ODM), which, among other tasks, will accompany election processes in member states and carry out studies on the consolidation of democracy.

The Council also approved the establishment of the Mercosur Training Institute (IMEF), to be based in Montevideo, Uruguay, aimed at training public administration workers in the bloc's countries.

The ministers have also approved several projects to be financed by the Mercosur Structural Convergence Fund (Focem) and made a series of decisions designed to reduce existing asymmetries between member states.

Anba – www.anba.com.br

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