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Ημερομηνία

2019 Sakharov Prize laureate: Ilham Tohti

10-12-2019

Space for freedom of thought is shrinking dramatically across the globe, as the geo-political and geo-economic clout of authoritarian regimes expands. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is therefore more important than ever: it enables the European Parliament to draw attention to the plight of those who stand up against the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms, principles on which the EU is based and which it promotes in its external relations, in line with Article 21 of the ...

Space for freedom of thought is shrinking dramatically across the globe, as the geo-political and geo-economic clout of authoritarian regimes expands. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is therefore more important than ever: it enables the European Parliament to draw attention to the plight of those who stand up against the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms, principles on which the EU is based and which it promotes in its external relations, in line with Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union. The 2019 Sakharov Prize laureate is renowned Uyghur economics professor Ilham Tohti, a moderate advocate of the rights of the Uyghur minority and of dialogue with the Han majority in China. In 2014, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on separatism-related charges, against the backdrop of China's hardening policy of countering religious extremism, ethnic separatism and terrorism – one that now frames Uyghur identity as a major national security threat. The Sakharov Prize is a €50 000 award, which will be presented at a ceremony in the European Parliament during the December plenary session in Strasbourg, in the presence of the other finalists.

Commitments made at the hearing of Josep BORRELL FONTELLES, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President-designate of the European Commission

22-11-2019

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President designate of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, appeared before the European Parliament on 7 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President designate of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, appeared before the European Parliament on 7 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document.

Louise Weiss - Campaigner for liberty

20-11-2019

Throughout her career in the public eye, Louise Weiss was both a writer and an activist. She was among those who promoted the European ideal on the basis of their experiences during the First World War. Like many other people who were similarly influenced, Louise Weiss was a product of the borderlands, her family having come from the part of eastern France that had been annexed by Germany in 1871. Louise Weiss devoted her life to various campaigns, which can be seen as having been mutually reinforcing ...

Throughout her career in the public eye, Louise Weiss was both a writer and an activist. She was among those who promoted the European ideal on the basis of their experiences during the First World War. Like many other people who were similarly influenced, Louise Weiss was a product of the borderlands, her family having come from the part of eastern France that had been annexed by Germany in 1871. Louise Weiss devoted her life to various campaigns, which can be seen as having been mutually reinforcing: the battle for women's rights, the battles for Europe and for freedom for the nations of central Europe, and the intellectual struggle to analyse and eradicate the roots of war. At different times in her life, she was a journalist, a politician, a committed intellectual and a maker of documentary films in many parts of the world. Her commitment to Europe remained the underlying theme of everything she did, and in 1979 she successfully stood as a candidate in the first elections to the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage. As the oldest member of the assembly, she gave the inaugural speech, before handing over the presidency to another woman who had campaigned for Europe, Simone Veil. Today, the building in which the European Parliament has its plenary chamber in Strasbourg is named after Louise Weiss.

The Mekong River: geopolitics over development, hydropower and the environment

18-11-2019

The Mekong River is a vital source of livelihoods and economic activity in continental South-East Asia and extends from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. Its length is 4 800 km. More than half circulates in China, but its channel runs through Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Mekong has the world's largest inland freshwater fishery industry, vital to the region's food security, representing around USD 3 000 million per year. Its unique and rich biological habitat provides ...

The Mekong River is a vital source of livelihoods and economic activity in continental South-East Asia and extends from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea. Its length is 4 800 km. More than half circulates in China, but its channel runs through Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. The Mekong has the world's largest inland freshwater fishery industry, vital to the region's food security, representing around USD 3 000 million per year. Its unique and rich biological habitat provides diverse livelihoods as well as four fifths of the animal protein for more than 60 million people. At the level of biodiversity, the importance of this river for global nature is vital. The Mekong region is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and to the degradation of ecosystems. The uncontrolled growth of the population both in China and in Southeast Asia is exerting unsustainable pressure on the Mekong in terms of a massive exploitation of all kinds of resources linked to the River: water, food, wood, energy, especially recent infrastructure and hydropower development, together with deforestation, illegal wildlife trade and habitat fragmentation. Water scarcity leads to reduced agricultural productivity, unemployment and poverty Four countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam) formed an intergovernmental agency in 1950, The Mekong River Commission (MRC), to defend the sustainable development of the Mekong River and to plan its future. The absence of China and Myanmar mitigates and erodes the effective dialogue of the MRC on the management of the River. The lack of implementing mechanisms denatures the organization itself..

International Agreements in Progress: EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements

14-11-2019

The European Commission has described the free trade and investment protection agreements (FTA/IPA) signed with Vietnam as the most ambitious deals of their type ever concluded by the EU and a developing country. Not only will they eliminate over 99 % of customs duties on goods, they will also open up Vietnamese markets to European service providers and investors. According to European Commission figures, the agreements will boost trade in both directions, with EU exports set to rise by nearly 30 ...

The European Commission has described the free trade and investment protection agreements (FTA/IPA) signed with Vietnam as the most ambitious deals of their type ever concluded by the EU and a developing country. Not only will they eliminate over 99 % of customs duties on goods, they will also open up Vietnamese markets to European service providers and investors. According to European Commission figures, the agreements will boost trade in both directions, with EU exports set to rise by nearly 30 %. Vietnam is the second south-east Asian country after Singapore to sign trade and investment agreements with the EU, bringing the long-term goal of a region-to-region EU-ASEAN trade deal a step closer. In view of the human rights situation in Vietnam, opinions are divided on whether the agreements should be ratified. Critics argue that the EU should not approve the agreements until the situation improves. On the other hand, defenders point out that the FTA/IPA include commitments to stronger human rights (such as allowing independent trade unions); they also insist that the EU can best help to bring about improvements by engaging with Vietnam . Following the same approach as for Singapore, the single text originally agreed in 2015 with Vietnam has been split into two parts, an FTA covering exclusive EU competences and an IPA that includes competences that are shared with EU Member States. The European Parliament is set to vote in February 2020; if it gives its consent, the two agreements will then have to be ratified by Vietnam and (for the IPA) the EU Member States before entering into force.

China's growing role as a security actor in Africa

08-10-2019

China has emerged as an important economic, political but also security actor in Africa as a result of its 'Going out' policy officially launched in 2001, and the massive roll-out of its signature connectivity strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), since 2013. The presence of Chinese citizens and economic assets in Africa has grown substantially due to China's expanding trade with, and China-funded infrastructure projects in, African countries. Many of those countries are plagued by intrastate ...

China has emerged as an important economic, political but also security actor in Africa as a result of its 'Going out' policy officially launched in 2001, and the massive roll-out of its signature connectivity strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), since 2013. The presence of Chinese citizens and economic assets in Africa has grown substantially due to China's expanding trade with, and China-funded infrastructure projects in, African countries. Many of those countries are plagued by intrastate armed conflicts, jihadist terrorism or maritime piracy off their coasts. The rising number of violent attacks against Chinese workers, calls from the domestic Chinese audience for action, and surging economic loss are some of the factors that have compelled the Chinese government to react. China has shifted from uncompromising non-involvement to selective and incremental engagement in bilateral, regional and international cooperation on peace and security by nuancing, on a case-by-case basis, the narrow boundaries of its normative foreign policy framework, including the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries, that had made a previously inward-looking China for decades a free-rider on global security, provided by the US in particular. As in other fields, China has pursued a two-pronged approach to African security issues, to defend its economic and security interests and to expand its influence in Africa. On the one hand, it has contributed to existing multilateral structures and instruments to foster peace and security. It has participated in UN-led peacekeeping missions to Africa and in the UN-mandated counter-piracy action off the Horn of Africa. Both have provided the pretext for China to accelerate its massive blue-water navy build up, to be present in the Indian Ocean and beyond and to set up its first overseas military base, in Djibouti. On the other hand, it has expanded its military presence by engaging African countries bilaterally through joint drills, military training, and military infrastructure-building and multilaterally through the newly created China-Africa fora on security issues. Against this backdrop it remains to be seen how complementary or competitive the future EU-China security cooperation, which so far has remained in its infancy, will be in seeking 'African solutions to African problems'.

Free trade or geo-economics? Trends in world trade

27-09-2019

The European Union (EU) is the biggest integrated economic zone and a guarantor of an open and predictable regulatory system able to determine its own economic destiny. But the behaviour of other global powers is increasingly calling this ability into question. China and the United States, especially, do not separate economic interests from geopolitical interests in the same way the EU does and are increasingly trying to gain geopolitical advantage using their economic might. The EU is known as ...

The European Union (EU) is the biggest integrated economic zone and a guarantor of an open and predictable regulatory system able to determine its own economic destiny. But the behaviour of other global powers is increasingly calling this ability into question. China and the United States, especially, do not separate economic interests from geopolitical interests in the same way the EU does and are increasingly trying to gain geopolitical advantage using their economic might. The EU is known as a fierce defender of a multilateral rules - based trade system with free but fair trade as its strategic policy objective. The EU will therefore do its utmost to save a ‘meaningful multilateralism’ by helping to reform the WTO, improve multilateral investment protection and conclude multilateral trade agreements. At the same time, the EU will defend its own interests by negotiating bilateral trade deals and applying trade defence and investment screening where needed. The EU has a strong interest in keeping the use of geo-economic measures manageable and avoid escalation into a trade war.

India-administered Kashmir: current situation

13-09-2019

On 5 and 6 August 2019, the Indian Parliament approved the withdrawal of Article 370 of the Constitution, which had guaranteed Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, a high degree of autonomy. It also decided to split Jammu and Kashmir into two territories, both administered directly from Delhi. Meanwhile, the government deployed 46 000 troops, arrested regional political leaders and thousands of activists, suspended internet and communications across the valley, and shut down schools ...

On 5 and 6 August 2019, the Indian Parliament approved the withdrawal of Article 370 of the Constitution, which had guaranteed Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, a high degree of autonomy. It also decided to split Jammu and Kashmir into two territories, both administered directly from Delhi. Meanwhile, the government deployed 46 000 troops, arrested regional political leaders and thousands of activists, suspended internet and communications across the valley, and shut down schools and colleges.

Trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

03-05-2019

This study explores the context and potential of the FTA negotiations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand. Through an analysis of the status quo, as well as several academic and policy analyses, it highlights the main opportunities for the EU from the negotiations, as well as potential threats and obstacles to agreement. The study explores in detail the likely impacts of market opening on trade in goods and services, as well as the potential in other key areas, including public procurement ...

This study explores the context and potential of the FTA negotiations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand. Through an analysis of the status quo, as well as several academic and policy analyses, it highlights the main opportunities for the EU from the negotiations, as well as potential threats and obstacles to agreement. The study explores in detail the likely impacts of market opening on trade in goods and services, as well as the potential in other key areas, including public procurement and investment. It also highlights the current architecture of FTAs which Australia and New Zealand have established, especially the very recent Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), to which both are party. It explores how these agreements impact on the EU’s competitiveness in the Australian and New Zealand markets and how FTAs could be leveraged to improve EU integration with these partners and their broader region. The study also considers how trade and sustainable development (TSD) can be effectively integrated into the agreements, in line with the objectives of the EU’s ‘Trade for All’ strategy. Finally, several potential wider, more political impacts of the FTAs are underlined.

Εξωτερικός συντάκτης

Louise CURRAN

India: taking stock of Modi's five years

10-04-2019

From 11 April to 18 May 2019, 900 million Indians are invited to take part in the world's biggest democratic event: the election of the 543 members of the Lok Sabha (lower chamber). Voting will be held across the country in seven phases and the result will be declared on 23 May. In 2014 the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) obtained the absolute majority in India's Lok Sabha, and Narendra Modi became prime minister. Enjoying a strong and undisputed mandate, Modi has generated expectations ...

From 11 April to 18 May 2019, 900 million Indians are invited to take part in the world's biggest democratic event: the election of the 543 members of the Lok Sabha (lower chamber). Voting will be held across the country in seven phases and the result will be declared on 23 May. In 2014 the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) obtained the absolute majority in India's Lok Sabha, and Narendra Modi became prime minister. Enjoying a strong and undisputed mandate, Modi has generated expectations of unleashing the country's economic potential and has adopted many flagship initiatives in a bid to change the country. In the last five years, India has overtaken China as the fastest growing economy, becoming the world's sixth biggest economy and a space power. Doing business in the country has become easier. Poverty has been reduced. The government succeeded in introducing major fiscal unification reform and a new law on bankruptcy. It failed, however to create the necessary stock of jobs for young people or to promote long-awaited labour reforms. The situation for farmers has worsened, and an overnight demonetisation hindered progress among small businesses and rural communities, while failing to bring real advances in the fight against corruption. State banks hold large stocks of bad loans and the government has increased pressure on the central bank and on its independence. Hindu nationalism and religious intolerance, pressure on freedom of expression, possible state intrusion into privacy, citizenship issues and other topics have been matters for concern in the area of human rights, although the country remains a robust democracy governed by the rule of law. Modi has increased the country's presence in the global arena, although the framework of India's relations with the major powers has not changed. Following two summits in 2016 and 2017, the EU and India have embarked on a road towards cooperation on non-trade issues. Trade has meanwhile stagnated and little progress has been made in negotiations on a trade and investment agreement.

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