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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.

Global Trends in Inflation: Are Central Banks Barking up the Wrong Tree?

16-09-2019

The ECB will not be able to achieve its inflation target over the foreseeable future. Further expansionary measures will have at most a modest impact on financial market conditions and even less on overall demand. Moreover, the impact of any demand stimulus on inflation is highly uncertain. The reasons for low inflation persistence despite tight labour markets almost everywhere are not fully understood. It is a global phenomenon, but not necessarily due to globalisation. One global factor seems ...

The ECB will not be able to achieve its inflation target over the foreseeable future. Further expansionary measures will have at most a modest impact on financial market conditions and even less on overall demand. Moreover, the impact of any demand stimulus on inflation is highly uncertain. The reasons for low inflation persistence despite tight labour markets almost everywhere are not fully understood. It is a global phenomenon, but not necessarily due to globalisation. One global factor seems beyond dispute, namely a fall in global equilibrium real interests. However, different views of how the economy operates lead to very different views how central banks should react to this phenomenon. There is little evidence that cooperation between central banks would have a significant impact on their (limited) ability to achieve their inflation targets.

Autor externo

Daniel Gros

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Industrial policy

28-06-2019

Through its industrial policy, the European Union (EU) has been striving to create conditions conducive to increasing industry growth and competitiveness since 1992. European industry remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing one job out of five, and is responsible for the bulk of EU exports and investment in research and innovation. Today, the aim of EU policy is to enable a successful transition towards digital, knowledge-based, decarbonised and more circular industry in Europe. To achieve ...

Through its industrial policy, the European Union (EU) has been striving to create conditions conducive to increasing industry growth and competitiveness since 1992. European industry remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing one job out of five, and is responsible for the bulk of EU exports and investment in research and innovation. Today, the aim of EU policy is to enable a successful transition towards digital, knowledge-based, decarbonised and more circular industry in Europe. To achieve this goal, the EU supports, coordinates and supplements Member State-level policies and actions, mainly in the areas of research and innovation, SMEs and digital technologies. In a Eurobarometer poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than half of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on industrial policy. Despite this, it is still the least understood policy area covered by the poll. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including investment (mainly through the European Fund for Strategic Investment, which supports industrial modernisation); digitalisation (for example setting up a number of research partnerships, or a growing network of digital innovation hubs); financing (making it easier for industry and SMEs to access public markets and attract venture funds); greener industry (for example through the revised 2030 emission targets, or measures on clean mobility); standardisation (bringing together relevant stakeholders to collectively develop and update European standards); and skills (mobilising key stakeholders to close the skills gap and providing an adequate workforce for modern industry). The European Parliament has called for ambitious policies in many of these areas. In the future, EU spending on key areas relevant to industrial policy is expected to rise moderately. The European Commission is proposing to boost the share of EU spending on research, SMEs and key infrastructure, although not as much as Parliament has requested. In the coming years, policies are likely to focus on seeking fairer global competition, stimulating innovation, building digital capacities and increasing the sustainability of European industry. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: International trade and globalisation

28-06-2019

The European Community was founded on the belief that economic integration leads to peace and economic prosperity. Trade is therefore a fundamental part of the identity of the European Union (EU) today. Given the success of the internal market in fostering the longest period of European peace in modern history, the EU considers itself an example of the benefits of trade, globalisation and economic openness. International trade policy is an exclusive competence of the EU, and with the combined economic ...

The European Community was founded on the belief that economic integration leads to peace and economic prosperity. Trade is therefore a fundamental part of the identity of the European Union (EU) today. Given the success of the internal market in fostering the longest period of European peace in modern history, the EU considers itself an example of the benefits of trade, globalisation and economic openness. International trade policy is an exclusive competence of the EU, and with the combined economic weight of its Member States behind it, the EU is one of the key players in global trade. Yet trade policy is about more than stability and growth for the EU, as it is also used to encourage poor countries to develop, foster international alliances and support fundamental values in the world. A strong partner in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the EU backs an international trading system based on rules rather than might. The benefits of globalisation and international trade have nevertheless been questioned in recent years, including within the EU. This has led it to reinvigorate its trade policy, in particular by presenting a new trade strategy and a reflection paper on harnessing globalisation. The EU's new 'trade for all' strategy addresses criticisms and focuses on making its trade policy more effective, transparent and value-based. In line with this strategy, the EU has pursued ongoing trade negotiations with renewed vigour and launched new trade and investment talks, resulting in state-of-the-art agreements with countries such as Canada and Japan. The EU faces uncertain times due to major shifts in international trade, coming from both the West and the East. In response, it seeks to promote economic openness, standing up for its values and protecting its interests. For example, the EU has retaliated against United States (US) steel tariffs and continues to defend the rules-based international trading order. Contentious trading practices on the part of third countries, including China, have led the EU to modernise its trade defence instruments, prepare a new foreign investment screening mechanism and seek a reform of the WTO. The EU is likely to continue this approach in the coming term, pursuing international cooperation and new agreements, possibly also at a continental level with Africa, and striving to protect its citizens and businesses from economic harm. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Global and regional value chains: Opportunities for European SMEs' internationalisation and growth

14-02-2019

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around ...

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around Europe, Asia and the Americas, is still being debated in the literature. Notwithstanding their geographical characteristics, international value chains offer increased opportunities for enterprises, by fostering their growth and internationalisation irrespective of their scale and size. To SMEs, they offer a broader range of channels through which they can participate more actively in global markets. By linking with international supply chains, SMEs can take a first step up the ladder, which – through spill-overs and knowledge transfers – can often give them access to assignments of higher added value. With greater interconnectedness, however, comes greater complexity. Not all SMEs are able to take advantage of the opportunities and link with international value chains in an effective way. More importantly, however, for those that do manage to integrate into international production chains, the magnitude and nature of the benefits will critically depend on the SMEs' entry point and position in global production networks and the links they can develop within those networks.

Reform of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

11-01-2019

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 to finance active labour market policies targeting workers who have lost their jobs because of trade adjustment. The fund was subsequently modified in 2009 to cover major structural changes triggered by the economic and financial crisis. The rules of the EGF are laid down in EU Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013, which stipulates that the fund will continue to be financed until 31 December 2020. In May 2018, the European Commission submitted ...

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 to finance active labour market policies targeting workers who have lost their jobs because of trade adjustment. The fund was subsequently modified in 2009 to cover major structural changes triggered by the economic and financial crisis. The rules of the EGF are laid down in EU Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013, which stipulates that the fund will continue to be financed until 31 December 2020. In May 2018, the European Commission submitted a proposal to reform the EGF and maintain it as a special instrument outside the MFF ceiling. The proposal introduces modifications to the eligibility criteria, the co-financing rules and the mobilisation procedure. The report was voted in the EMPL committee on 27 November 2018, and the report is due to be debated in plenary in January 2019, with a view to finalising Parliament's position for trilogue negotiations. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Brexit and Industry and Space Policy - workshop proceedings

09-11-2018

This document summarises the presentations and discussions of the workshop of “Brexit and Industry and Space Policy”, which was held on 24 September 2018. The effects of Brexit on EU27 business, trade, value chains, innovation and space policy were assessed. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

This document summarises the presentations and discussions of the workshop of “Brexit and Industry and Space Policy”, which was held on 24 September 2018. The effects of Brexit on EU27 business, trade, value chains, innovation and space policy were assessed. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

Autor externo

Bowen CALL, Bruegel Reinhilde VEUGELERS, Bruegel

European Social Fund Plus and European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

08-10-2018

The Commission proposes to establish a European Social Plus (ESF+) by merging different funds and programmes, and a strengthened European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). These proposals would contribute to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and enhance social Europe. The impact assessment report (IA) concerning the proposals explains the challenges of funding and the defined objectives of the proposals. In relation to the proposed measures, risks and mitigating measures have also ...

The Commission proposes to establish a European Social Plus (ESF+) by merging different funds and programmes, and a strengthened European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). These proposals would contribute to implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and enhance social Europe. The impact assessment report (IA) concerning the proposals explains the challenges of funding and the defined objectives of the proposals. In relation to the proposed measures, risks and mitigating measures have also been discussed. It can be noted that the IA essentially concentrates in providing a thorough assessment of the selected measures, rather than discussing possible alternatives and comparing and assessing them. In addition, it would have benefited the analysis, if the link with the specific objectives had been elaborated more, as the description of social impacts is quite limited, and health impacts are not discussed although the Health Programme is merged into the ESF+. It would have been useful to have further explanation on the merger of the Health Programme into the ESF+ and its expected synergy impacts. A more detailed description would have been welcome concerning the results of the targeted stakeholder consultations.

Protectionism and international diplomacy

25-06-2018

Just three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall signifying the end of Cold War aggression and the ascendancy of international liberalism, the world faces even greater uncertainty. In every region of the world, geopolitical shifts are taking place that have brought offensive trade agendas to the fore. The US has withdrawn from underwriting the post-World War Two international economic and foreign policy architecture, instead proposing to build a wall between itself and neighbouring Mexico, imposing ...

Just three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall signifying the end of Cold War aggression and the ascendancy of international liberalism, the world faces even greater uncertainty. In every region of the world, geopolitical shifts are taking place that have brought offensive trade agendas to the fore. The US has withdrawn from underwriting the post-World War Two international economic and foreign policy architecture, instead proposing to build a wall between itself and neighbouring Mexico, imposing unilateral tariff increases while refusing to negotiate new international agreements. In Europe, the project of ever greater integration has been attacked by Brexit, as well as other populist sentiment against the perceived power of EU institutions and the forces of globalisation. The breakdown of the western coalition advocating global governance has left a power vacuum that other key players such as China are forced to respond to. These current tectonic shifts in power and foreign policy positions impact on every country and every individual in the early 21st century. While many governments strive to maintain international cooperation and further integration, it is an unpredictable era. For trade policy has established itself firmly within the arena of high foreign diplomacy and as a result, traditional assumptions and adherence to international norms can no longer be assumed in such a state of political and economic flux. Yet when trade policy becomes a tool of diplomacy and foreign policy, sound economic reasoning can be lost to political decision making. This report shines a spotlight on the rise of protectionism in the 21st century. It examines the diplomatic dynamics behind economic nationalism and its attack on the established liberal international institutions that were created after the second World War to settle disputes without recourse to war. Before focusing on the US, UK, EU and China, the first chapter centers on the threat to economic integration and cooperation in promoting sustainable development through the multilateral rules-based system established under the World Trade Organization.

Autor externo

Ms Kamala DAWAR

China [What Think Tanks are thinking]

23-03-2018

The National People's Congress has recently confirmed Xi Jinping as China's President, along with several appointments of his allies to top state jobs. It has also approved amendments to China's Constitution which, in particular, abolish the limit of two five-year terms for the office of President, prompting concerns that the country is moving towards a more autocratic system. These decisions have cemented Xi's grip on power in a country that plays an increasingly important role in the global economy ...

The National People's Congress has recently confirmed Xi Jinping as China's President, along with several appointments of his allies to top state jobs. It has also approved amendments to China's Constitution which, in particular, abolish the limit of two five-year terms for the office of President, prompting concerns that the country is moving towards a more autocratic system. These decisions have cemented Xi's grip on power in a country that plays an increasingly important role in the global economy, as well as in security and foreign affairs. Analysts say that China's growing assertiveness poses a challenge to the United States, whose policies are becoming increasingly unpredictable, and to other international actors. This note offers links to recent commentaries, studies and reports from major international think tanks on China, its ties with the EU and related issues. More studies on the topics can be found in a previous edition of 'What Think Tanks are thinking' published in June, 2017.

Socios