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Korean peninsula: State of play - Further uncertainty follows period of hope

20-07-2020

North Korea and South Korea have been on different paths since World War II. The North has remained isolated and poor, its regime inspired by Soviet structures, with a centrally planned economy. The South, meanwhile, after alternating periods of autocratic and democratic rule, made a clear choice at the end of the 1980s in favour of democracy and a market economy, a choice that has led the country to success in several sectors. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the military conflict ...

North Korea and South Korea have been on different paths since World War II. The North has remained isolated and poor, its regime inspired by Soviet structures, with a centrally planned economy. The South, meanwhile, after alternating periods of autocratic and democratic rule, made a clear choice at the end of the 1980s in favour of democracy and a market economy, a choice that has led the country to success in several sectors. North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the military conflict of 1950-1953 ended with an armistice that was never followed by a peace treaty. There are 28 500 US (United States) soldiers stationed in South Korea, which signed a Mutual Defence Treaty with Washington in 1953. There have been frequent tensions over the past 70 years, and North Korea has become a de facto nuclear power since the 2000s, prompting international sanctions. Early in 2018 a detente raised hopes of peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met with US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, but the summits have led neither to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, nor to the easing of sanctions against the North. Pyongyang's frustration provoked new tensions in the region in June 2020, when the North, in a symbolic move, destroyed the liaison office in the border area, the de facto embassy of the two Koreas. But Kim's options seem limited at present, and there is little chance of progress until after the US presidential elections. Meanwhile, Moon Jae-in has invested much political capital in the Korean peace process, and is willing to make further moves before the end of his mandate in 2022. The EU has traditionally maintained a policy of critical engagement towards North Korea, upholding the international non-proliferation regime and supporting a lasting reduction in tensions on the peninsula. The EU and South Korea are strategic partners. During the 30 June 2020 EU–South Korea summit, the EU reaffirmed its support for Seoul's efforts to engage with the North to achieve peace and prosperity on the peninsula.

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'.

Climate Change and Migration

15-07-2020

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, examines legal and policy responses to environmental migration and displacement. Following a review of international, regional and national initiatives and legal instruments, it offers recommendations on ways to better address root causes and consequences of the climate change-migration nexus in Europe and beyond.

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee, examines legal and policy responses to environmental migration and displacement. Following a review of international, regional and national initiatives and legal instruments, it offers recommendations on ways to better address root causes and consequences of the climate change-migration nexus in Europe and beyond.

Autor externo

Albert KRALER, Danube University Krems Caitlin KATSIAFICAS, International Centre for Migration Policy Development Martin WAGNER, International Centre for Migration Policy Development

Assessing the potential impact of an EU-India trade agreement

01-07-2020

The EU and India are major actors in the international arena and the discussions over a possible Free Trade Agreement has been ongoing for several years. This study analyses the potential effects of an FTA between EU and India in a "Cost of Non Europe" perspective. The results of a quantitative simulation of a potential FTA in goods and services indicate that welfare gains from increased trade for both sides may be between € 8 billion and € 8.5 billion (0.03 % increase with respect to the baseline ...

The EU and India are major actors in the international arena and the discussions over a possible Free Trade Agreement has been ongoing for several years. This study analyses the potential effects of an FTA between EU and India in a "Cost of Non Europe" perspective. The results of a quantitative simulation of a potential FTA in goods and services indicate that welfare gains from increased trade for both sides may be between € 8 billion and € 8.5 billion (0.03 % increase with respect to the baseline for the EU and about 0.3 % for India). Furthermore, a qualitative analysis suggests that potential gains may appear from a coordinated EU action in addressing possible side effects, distributive impacts and externalities (such as inequalities, labour market effects, poverty and development implications, environmental issues) and from increased coordination in the provision of global public goods. By considering these aspects, the Cost of Non-Europe in the field may be larger.

Coronavirus in south-east Asia: Health, political and economic impact

19-06-2020

Coronavirus has affected the 10 south-east Asian countries in very different ways. Thanks to quick and decisive action, Vietnam came through relatively unscathed; Singapore also seemed to have the virus under control, before a second wave of infections among migrant labourers took off. Malaysia and Thailand initially struggled, but now seem to have turned the situation around. In Indonesia and the Philippines, the disease continues to spread rapidly. Although weak healthcare systems make Cambodia ...

Coronavirus has affected the 10 south-east Asian countries in very different ways. Thanks to quick and decisive action, Vietnam came through relatively unscathed; Singapore also seemed to have the virus under control, before a second wave of infections among migrant labourers took off. Malaysia and Thailand initially struggled, but now seem to have turned the situation around. In Indonesia and the Philippines, the disease continues to spread rapidly. Although weak healthcare systems make Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, the three poorest countries of the region, highly vulnerable, they have not reported many infections so far. Despite such differences, some of the issues raised by the coronavirus pandemic are common to all countries of the region. For example, pre-existing inequalities have widened, particularly affecting low-paid workers in informal employment, migrants, and refugees. Meanwhile, governments are clamping down on free speech and adopting emergency powers, raising concerns over authoritarian tendencies. Although the countries of the region are cooperating with each other and neighbours such as China, tensions (for example, in the South China Sea) have become more apparent. All south-east Asian economies have been affected, but the impact varies considerably. Vietnam is expected to do relatively well, and several other countries will also see modest growth. Due to a global downturn in trade and tourism, Singapore and Thailand are suffering most. Overall, the region is forecast to see less of an economic impact than Europe or North America, and growth is expected to rebound in 2021.

Hong Kong: A Beijing-imposed security law?

11-06-2020

On 28 May 2020, the National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) authorised its Standing Committee to adopt a national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the city's Parliament, the Legislative Council. The law, expected to enter into force prior to Hong Kong's legislative elections scheduled for September 2020, is likely to be a turning point for the city's 'high degree of autonomy' and a premature phasing out of the 'One country, two systems' model that was planned ...

On 28 May 2020, the National People's Congress (NPC) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) authorised its Standing Committee to adopt a national security law for Hong Kong, bypassing the city's Parliament, the Legislative Council. The law, expected to enter into force prior to Hong Kong's legislative elections scheduled for September 2020, is likely to be a turning point for the city's 'high degree of autonomy' and a premature phasing out of the 'One country, two systems' model that was planned to subsist for 50 years from 1997. The European Parliament is expected to debate a statement from the High Representative during the June plenary session.

Japan's Parliament and other political institutions

09-06-2020

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can have a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet ...

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can have a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet. The Chief Cabinet Secretary also plays a relevant role. Abe Shinzō, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, is Japan's longest-serving prime minister, having been at the head of the executive since December 2012. The Supreme Court is at the top of the judiciary system. It is not a constitutional court, despite handling appeals arising from actual disputes. The appointment of its Justices is reviewed by the people at the first general election of the Lower House following their appointment. Japan is a unitary state divided into 47 prefectures. A Metropolitan Government administers the capital, Tokyo. Japan's 1947 Constitution recognises 'local self-government.' Local governments carry out many of the national policies and programmes. They have limited autonomy, also because of their dependence on financial resources from the central government. Japan has a bicameral system − the Diet. Although the two chambers share legislative powers, the Lower House (House of Representatives) prevails in the legislative process and is empowered to adopt the final decision on the budget and on the approval of international treaties. Changes in the regional geopolitical environment and in the country's demographic structure have prompted debates on issues such as the revision of the 'pacifist' Article 9 of the Constitution and the seat distribution among electoral constituencies.

EU-China trade and investment relations in challenging times

25-05-2020

This report examines key aspects of the European Union-China economic relationship, including trade, investment and China’s key strategic project overseas, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We conclude that China is, and will continue to be, a major trade and investment partner for EU countries. In this context, it seems clear that regardless of the direction of the United States-China relationship, the EU needs to explore options for fruitful co-existence with China. Trade continues to be the ...

This report examines key aspects of the European Union-China economic relationship, including trade, investment and China’s key strategic project overseas, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). We conclude that China is, and will continue to be, a major trade and investment partner for EU countries. In this context, it seems clear that regardless of the direction of the United States-China relationship, the EU needs to explore options for fruitful co-existence with China. Trade continues to be the least problematic aspect of the EU-China economic relationship, although challenges need to be dealt with in a number of areas. There is hardly any EU-China trade in services, and the value added of Chinese exports and competition on third markets is increasing. As for investment, although EU companies have built up more foreign direct investment in China than the other way around, Chinese investment in Europe is growing and has focused strongly on technology. This raises the question of whether the EU should fear losing its technological edge, especially when Chinese state-owned companies might distort competition, not only in China, but also overseas through acquisitions. Finally, we review the significance of the BRI from the European perspective. The BRI offers potential trade gains for Europe by improving physical connectivity with countries along the route to China, but it also poses challenges for the EU. The main challenge is China’s increasing soft power, which is being felt in the EU’s neighbourhood and even in a growing number of EU countries. A more united approach to managing the EU-China economic relationship is required to improve the bargaining power of EU countries when dealing with China.

Autor externo

Alicia GARCIA-HERRERO, Guntram WOLFF, Jianwei XU, Nicolas POITIERS, Gabriel FELBERMAYR, Rolf LANGHAMMER, Wan-Hsin LIU, Alexander SANDKAMP

Coronavirus and international sanctions: Should sanctions be eased during the pandemic?

20-05-2020

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least ...

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least possible humanitarian cost. Usually it does this by targeting restrictions at key individuals or organisations, and in some cases sectors, rather than a country's economy as a whole. Critics of sanctions claim that US-imposed trade restrictions have prevented Iran from purchasing essential medical supplies needed to fight the pandemic. They also argue that EU and US sanctions make desperately impoverished Zimbabwe and Sudan even more vulnerable than they would otherwise be. Both the European Union and the United States defend their policies, but acknowledge the importance of humanitarian exceptions. Although the European Union has not said that it will lift any of its restrictive measures, it has offered various forms of support to several sanctions-hit countries.

Discriminatory Laws Undermining Women’s Rights

20-05-2020

This paper provides insight into the current situation and recent trends in the abolition or reform of discriminatory laws undermining women's rights in countries outside the European Union (EU). The paper aims to provide a nuanced understanding of processes through which legal reforms take place. Among the factors that have proven to facilitate legal reform are the ratification of international human rights treaties, feminist activism, legal and public advocacy by women’s rights and other human ...

This paper provides insight into the current situation and recent trends in the abolition or reform of discriminatory laws undermining women's rights in countries outside the European Union (EU). The paper aims to provide a nuanced understanding of processes through which legal reforms take place. Among the factors that have proven to facilitate legal reform are the ratification of international human rights treaties, feminist activism, legal and public advocacy by women’s rights and other human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs), political dialogue, and increased women's representation in decision-making processes. Incremental steps supported by the EU towards the abolition of discriminatory laws across all legal categories, EU engagement with a broad range of stakeholders at both national and local levels, programmes supporting the gathering of gender-disaggregated data across all sectors and the publicising of data to draw attention to gender inequality in law and practice, among others, can all contribute towards successful reform of discriminatory laws. Striking the right balance between funding programmes that mainstream gender and funding dedicated to gender-targeted programmes, together with the increased use of country gender profiles, are essential in order to achieve quality legal reforms.

Autor externo

Mr. Paul DALTON, Ms. Deniz DEVRIM, Mr. Roland BLOMEYER, Ms. Senni MUT-TRACY

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