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Leiza Brumat and Diego Acosta

South America comprises Regional Integration (RI) processes, including free movement, and it has been presented by many scholars as being the second most developed region in this regard at the global level, and as being comparable in some respects to the European experience. In this chapter we explore selected aspects of the free movement regime in MERCOSUR and the possible influence the EU might have had on them. By looking at the ideas and understandings of free movement that influenced policy outcomes in MERCOSUR, we will argue that while the first ‘generation’ of regulations shared some technical aspects, vocabulary and ideas deriving from the EU’s experiment, in the ‘second generation’ the policies in South America were ‘decoupled’ from the process of economic integration and did not take the EU as a reference at all. We then identify a third possible generation of policies in which some ‘European’ concepts and language are used - but with different meanings and understandings - by MERCOSUR policymaking actors.

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Diego Acosta and Luisa Feline Freier

The extraordinarily liberal discourses on immigration and migrants’ rights that South American governments have embarked on since 2000, led to progressive policy initiatives at the national and regional level. In interregional comparison, these developments stand in contrast to recent debates on freedom of movement and refugee flows in the EU in the context of the increase of asylum applications since 2015, and the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK. Within the region, they mark an important turning point from a historical perspective. This chapter offers an overview of recent developments in migration governance in South America at both the regional and national level. Rather surprisingly, very few studies have thus far touched on the South American experience. Apart from addressing this geographic gap in the literature, we will further suggest that an ideational approach is necessary to understand migration policy change on both the domestic and regional level. The conclusion highlights room for further research.