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International Agreements in Progress - EU–China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Levelling the playing field with China

11-09-2020

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play. The CAI negotiations are aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties ...

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play. The CAI negotiations are aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties (BITs) China and EU Member States concluded prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 when the EU gained competence for most investment issues. The CAI is intended to go far beyond traditional investment protection to also cover market access, investment-related sustainable development, and level playing field issues, such as transparency of subsidies, and rules on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and forced technology transfer. Although leaders at the 2019 EU-China Summit jointly committed to concluding the CAI talks in 2020, lack of engagement at the highest political level on the Chinese side has raised doubts as to whether a breakthrough can be reached in time, with China more focused on navigating the uncertainties of its relations with the United States from January 2021. First edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification.

An EU legal framework to halt and reverse EU-driven global deforestation: European added value assessment

08-09-2020

Deforestation caused by agricultural activity is continuing at an alarming rate, threatening irreplaceable tropical forests that, among other things, are crucial for fighting climate change. The EU bears its share of responsibility for this environmental loss, as it is one of the major importers of several forest-risk commodities. To date, action has been taken at different levels to stop commodity-driven deforestation. Nevertheless, the impact on forest loss has been low as deforestation continues ...

Deforestation caused by agricultural activity is continuing at an alarming rate, threatening irreplaceable tropical forests that, among other things, are crucial for fighting climate change. The EU bears its share of responsibility for this environmental loss, as it is one of the major importers of several forest-risk commodities. To date, action has been taken at different levels to stop commodity-driven deforestation. Nevertheless, the impact on forest loss has been low as deforestation continues and new hot spots occur. There has been a recent commitment at EU level to propose new measures to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market. This European added value assessment (EAVA) accompanies the European Parliament's own-initiative legislative report calling on the European Commission to take legislative action on the matter. The EAVA looks at why EU action is needed and analyses four potential demand-side regulatory policy options at EU level. A quantitative analysis reveals that to varying extents, all options have the potential to reduce EU-driven deforestation and associated carbon emissions, while having a relatively small impact on the EU economy

EU-China geographical indications agreement

02-09-2020

On 6 November 2019, the EU and China concluded negotiations on a standalone agreement on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications (GIs), i.e. distinctive signs attached to (mainly) agricultural products that have a given quality, reputation or other characteristics that are attributable to their specific geographic origin. GIs are a type of intellectual property right (IPR) protected at multilateral level under the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ...

On 6 November 2019, the EU and China concluded negotiations on a standalone agreement on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications (GIs), i.e. distinctive signs attached to (mainly) agricultural products that have a given quality, reputation or other characteristics that are attributable to their specific geographic origin. GIs are a type of intellectual property right (IPR) protected at multilateral level under the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and in the EU under a sui generis GI protection regime. The reciprocal EU-China agreement seeks to protect 100 EU GIs in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU against imitation and usurpation. On 20 July 2020, the Council endorsed its signature, and the European Parliament has now to give its consent for the agreement's conclusion. Once in force, the agreement could help boost EU exports of high-quality foodstuffs, wines and spirits to the EU's third-largest destination for agrifood exports, and foster rural development. It would also expand global recognition of the EU's sui generis GI protection regime, a key EU trade policy objective.

International trade policy

29-07-2020

The coronavirus pandemic caused a significant collapse in international trade in the first half of 2020. Trade accounts for a higher proportion of the EU economy than that of the United States of America (US) or China, which can make the EU's economic model more vulnerable to import and export disruptions. In recent years, the multilateral liberal trading order has already been facing unprecedented turbulence. The rise of protectionism and zero-sum thinking, trade wars and the blockage within the ...

The coronavirus pandemic caused a significant collapse in international trade in the first half of 2020. Trade accounts for a higher proportion of the EU economy than that of the United States of America (US) or China, which can make the EU's economic model more vulnerable to import and export disruptions. In recent years, the multilateral liberal trading order has already been facing unprecedented turbulence. The rise of protectionism and zero-sum thinking, trade wars and the blockage within the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body have been severely undermining the basis on which trade had been conducted in recent decades. At the same time, the European Commission remains committed to the promotion of free and fair trade. Thus the five main priorities for EU trade policy after coronavirus will be economic recovery, re-establishing a positive transatlantic relationship, levelling the playing field with China, negotiating a fair new trade relationship with the United Kingdom, and improving enforcement and implementation of the EU's trade agreements with 76 countries around the world. Each of these priorities will need to be balanced against the requirements of the WTO, a comprehensive regulatory approach to digital trade and mainstreaming of sustainability objectives into trade policy. Creative solutions, such as instruments to tackle foreign subsidies and the WTO pharmaceutical agreement can also help Europe to navigate the new geo-economic and post-coronavirus era of global trade successfully.

Review of EU Enforcement Regulation for trade disputes

20-07-2020

On 12 December 2019, the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules ('the Enforcement Regulation') of 15 May 2014. The Enforcement Regulation enables the EU to suspend or withdraw concessions or other obligations under international trade agreements in order to respond to breaches by third countries of international trade rules that affect the EU's commercial ...

On 12 December 2019, the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules ('the Enforcement Regulation') of 15 May 2014. The Enforcement Regulation enables the EU to suspend or withdraw concessions or other obligations under international trade agreements in order to respond to breaches by third countries of international trade rules that affect the EU's commercial interests. The proposed amendments would enable the EU to impose counter-measures in situations where EU trade partners violate international trade rules and block the dispute settlement procedures included in multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements, thus preventing the EU from obtaining final binding rulings in its favour. The latter are required under the current EU regulation to enforce international trade rules. As the Council adopted its negotiating position on 8 April 2020 and the Committee on International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament adopted its negotiating position on 6 July 2020, trilogue negotiations can now be launched as the next step in the legislative process. First edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Scenarios for geo-politics after coronavirus: A recent Atlantic Council analysis

16-07-2020

The Atlantic Council report, 'What World Post-Covid-19? Three Scenarios', has two main takeaways: first, Chinese-US rivalry could get worse and go global, destabilising an increasingly divided EU and endangering the United States' alliances system in Asia. Second, there is no way around the US, Europe and China cooperating to develop a positive, global 'new normal'.

The Atlantic Council report, 'What World Post-Covid-19? Three Scenarios', has two main takeaways: first, Chinese-US rivalry could get worse and go global, destabilising an increasingly divided EU and endangering the United States' alliances system in Asia. Second, there is no way around the US, Europe and China cooperating to develop a positive, global 'new normal'.

EU development cooperation and ethical certification schemes: impact, transparency and traceability

15-07-2020

‘Transparency’, ‘Traceability’, ‘Sustainable standards’, ‘good agricultural practices’ and ‘zero-deforestation’ are all fine terms which [alongside many others] have emerged in connection with the cocoa sector’s certification process. But does the reality of this process justify using such terms? Our initial conclusions in this study, based on an analysis of existing research over recent years, revealed that a considerable number of investigations had been commissioned by the certification schemes ...

‘Transparency’, ‘Traceability’, ‘Sustainable standards’, ‘good agricultural practices’ and ‘zero-deforestation’ are all fine terms which [alongside many others] have emerged in connection with the cocoa sector’s certification process. But does the reality of this process justify using such terms? Our initial conclusions in this study, based on an analysis of existing research over recent years, revealed that a considerable number of investigations had been commissioned by the certification schemes themselves. Key findings presented by the various studies all conveyed a positive tone. However, on closer inspection we felt that smallholders covered by the programmes were ‘following party lines’ rather than speaking freely. This suspicion was well-founded. Having built up trust in the villages during several years of field-work, we eventually gained access to exclusive data held by the cooperatives and certification programmes. We have used this evidence in order to draw a comparison between the virtual world portrayed by certification schemes’ narrative and the real world being faced by cocoa producers. Certification schemes claim that they give a sense of trust within the value chain, particularly in regard to produce traceability. They also claim to assist farmers, by way of training, various inputs (fertilisers etc.) and credit schemes. In reality, these ‘advantages’ are not visible at farm level. Budgets prepared by cooperatives to justify the use of premiums reflect structural flaws in certification and access to information. Serious questions arise surrounding deforestation, child labour and the payment of premiums. Social investment is minimal and consumers’ perception diverges from the reality. In conclusion, we make a number of key proposals and suggestions based on stakeholders’ complaints and recommendations.

Ārējais autors

Enrique URIBE LEITZ, François RUF

Association agreement between the EU and Ukraine

07-07-2020

The European implementation assessment (EIA) evaluates the implementation of the association agreement (EU AA), including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), between the EU and Ukraine. The evaluation forms an update of an evaluation published in July 2018. The EIA shows progress and challenges in the implementation of the agreement in Ukraine and stresses the importance of further reforms in this Eastern Partnership country. The EIA consists of two parts, an opening analysis ...

The European implementation assessment (EIA) evaluates the implementation of the association agreement (EU AA), including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA), between the EU and Ukraine. The evaluation forms an update of an evaluation published in July 2018. The EIA shows progress and challenges in the implementation of the agreement in Ukraine and stresses the importance of further reforms in this Eastern Partnership country. The EIA consists of two parts, an opening analysis prepared internally by the DG EPRS and a briefing paper prepared externally by the Polish Institute of International Affairs. The EIA has been prepared to accompany the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) in its scrutiny work, namely on its work on the own-initiative annual implementing report on the EU association agreement with Ukraine.

A Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa

25-06-2020

The new EU-Africa Strategy presented by the Commission on 9 March puts a reinforced emphasis on the creation of a real partnership with a continent whose relevance for Europe is growing by the day. The three briefings focus on different aspects of this new partnership, the first one dealing with the implications for the political dialogue with a focus on (good) governance and the even bigger challenge of security and migration. The second briefing has a look at more ‘traditional’ aspects of this ...

The new EU-Africa Strategy presented by the Commission on 9 March puts a reinforced emphasis on the creation of a real partnership with a continent whose relevance for Europe is growing by the day. The three briefings focus on different aspects of this new partnership, the first one dealing with the implications for the political dialogue with a focus on (good) governance and the even bigger challenge of security and migration. The second briefing has a look at more ‘traditional’ aspects of this relationship, development and humanitarian aid, complemented with the rising challenge of climate change. The new approach is also illustrated by the emphasis put on the promotion of bilateral trade and investment relations, the topic of the third briefing. All these briefings also try to incorporate first elements on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the bilateral relationship.

Ārējais autors

Morten BØÅS, Ondřej HORKÝ-HLUCHÁŇ,Ainhoa MARIN-EGOSCOZABAL

A Comprehensive EU Strategy for Africa - Trade and Investments

25-06-2020

The new European Commission (EC) is putting EU-African relations to the fore. A Joint Communication of the EC towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa stresses the African Continent’s strategic importance and the EU’s need to strengthen its partnership with (and not for) Africa. Proposals in the Joint Communication maintain promotion of sustainable investments with Africa on top of the EU’s agenda. Partnership with Africa to attract investors and boost regional as well as continental integration ...

The new European Commission (EC) is putting EU-African relations to the fore. A Joint Communication of the EC towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa stresses the African Continent’s strategic importance and the EU’s need to strengthen its partnership with (and not for) Africa. Proposals in the Joint Communication maintain promotion of sustainable investments with Africa on top of the EU’s agenda. Partnership with Africa to attract investors and boost regional as well as continental integration are specific actions aimed to attain sustainable growth and jobs in African countries. This emphasis is not new, being in line with a geopolitically oriented Commission and the European Union’s (EU) trend of shifting from a Donor-recipient model to a relationship based on mutual cooperation, pursuing common interests and mutual benefits. As the COVID-19 pandemic takes hold in Africa during 2020, it is becoming more urgent that EU and African relations post COVID-19 be tailored to a new scenario and show tangible action using partnership rhetoric.

Ārējais autors

Ainhoa MARIN-EGOSCOZABAL

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