77

result(s)

Word(s)
Publication type
Policy area
Author
Keyword
Date

Connectivity in Central Asia: Reconnecting the Silk Road

02-04-2019

Despite being strategically located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Central Asia has long been poorly connected: remote, landlocked, cut off from the main population centres of Europe and Asia by empty steppes and rugged mountains. As well as physical barriers, regulatory obstacles and political repression often inhibit the free flow of people, goods, services and ideas. However, in 2013 China announced its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), one of whose aims is to revive the historic Silk Road ...

Despite being strategically located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Central Asia has long been poorly connected: remote, landlocked, cut off from the main population centres of Europe and Asia by empty steppes and rugged mountains. As well as physical barriers, regulatory obstacles and political repression often inhibit the free flow of people, goods, services and ideas. However, in 2013 China announced its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), one of whose aims is to revive the historic Silk Road trade route connecting Europe to the Far East via Central Asia. Uzbekistan's more open foreign policy since 2016 also favours improved connectivity. The Belt and Road Initiative has provided impetus for a major transport infrastructure upgrade. Central Asian countries are also dismantling barriers to trade and travel. Many problems still remain – the poor state of physical infrastructure, limited digital connectivity, and regulatory obstacles. Progress has been uneven. In Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, improved connectivity is driving increased trade and investment, while Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are lagging behind. Given the importance of connectivity for Central Asia, it is key to the EU's relations with the region. The EU is making a difference, for example, by supporting educational exchanges and helping to dismantle trade barriers, but its role has not attracted the same attention as China's BRI. The EU's 2018 Connecting Europe and Asia strategy aims to redress the balance by setting out the values that underpin its own vision of sustainable, rules-based connectivity. For the strategy, connectivity is about more than infrastructure, and includes tackling non-physical (e.g. regulatory) barriers to movement. The EU has also expressed concerns about some aspects of the BRI, seen as prioritising China's interests over those of partner countries. However, given Beijing's growing influence, the EU needs to co-exist not only with China but also Russia, which is also a major connectivity player in the region through its Eurasian Economic Union.

The EU's new Central Asia strategy

30-01-2019

Central Asia is an often overlooked region, but one that is gradually becoming more important for the European Union. Although the Central Asian countries are less of a priority than those of the Eastern Neighbourhood, the EU has steadily intensified diplomatic relations with the region, at the same time as ramping up development aid. European trade and investment, above all in Kazakhstan, have made the EU the main economic player in Central Asia, ahead of Russia and China. However, former overlord ...

Central Asia is an often overlooked region, but one that is gradually becoming more important for the European Union. Although the Central Asian countries are less of a priority than those of the Eastern Neighbourhood, the EU has steadily intensified diplomatic relations with the region, at the same time as ramping up development aid. European trade and investment, above all in Kazakhstan, have made the EU the main economic player in Central Asia, ahead of Russia and China. However, former overlord Russia does not seem to resent European influence in Central Asia as much as in eastern Europe, and the region has avoided becoming a zone of geopolitical confrontation. The EU's 2007 Central Asia strategy defines the priorities for EU development aid and diplomatic activity in the region. These include responding to security threats, protecting human rights, promoting economic development, developing transport and energy links, and ensuring environmental protection. Since then, progress in these areas has been uneven. Nevertheless, the issues identified in 2007 are still highly relevant today, and will probably remain at the heart of future EU policy in Central Asia. However, there have also been several major developments since the strategy was adopted: China's Belt and Road Initiative is reviving overland trade routes connecting Europe and Asia via the region; in Uzbekistan, a more conciliatory foreign policy under the country's new president has eased regional tensions and opened the door to cooperation between formerly hostile neighbours. At the same time, Central Asian countries are becoming more interested in engaging with Afghanistan. A new strategy, expected for mid-2019, will therefore need to spell out how the EU responds to these new dynamics.

The Scope and Mandate of EU Special Representatives (EUSRs)

24-01-2019

The present study aims to assess the scope and mandate of EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) in an attempt to explore and provide an analysis on the role of this diplomatic instrument of the European Union, especially in light of the changes to the conduct of EU external action brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon, reflected in the creation of the European External Action Service and European Union Delegations. By doing so this study not only provides an update on the role of EU Special Representatives ...

The present study aims to assess the scope and mandate of EU Special Representatives (EUSRs) in an attempt to explore and provide an analysis on the role of this diplomatic instrument of the European Union, especially in light of the changes to the conduct of EU external action brought about by the Treaty of Lisbon, reflected in the creation of the European External Action Service and European Union Delegations. By doing so this study not only provides an update on the role of EU Special Representatives in the EU’s external action, but also looks forward by assessing their added value and the potential of their further institutional integration.

External author

Francisca COSTA REIS, Researcher, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Belgium; Sharon LECOCQ, Researcher, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Belgium; Dr. Guillaume VAN DER LOO, Senior Researcher, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Belgium; Prof. Dr. Kolja RAUBE, Senior Researcher, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Belgium; Prof. Dr. Jan WOUTERS, Director, Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Belgium.

China: Economic indicators and trade with EU

04-10-2018

China's economy is slowing from past two-digit growth rates to a 'new normal' growth rate of 'only' 6.5% on average under the current five-year plan (2016-2020). To what extent does this slowdown affect China's public finances and other macroeconomic indicators? How has EU trade with China developed during the last decade? How important is the EU for China in terms of trade? And what about China's trade relevance for the EU? Has the huge trade imbalance in goods trade between China and the EU narrowed ...

China's economy is slowing from past two-digit growth rates to a 'new normal' growth rate of 'only' 6.5% on average under the current five-year plan (2016-2020). To what extent does this slowdown affect China's public finances and other macroeconomic indicators? How has EU trade with China developed during the last decade? How important is the EU for China in terms of trade? And what about China's trade relevance for the EU? Has the huge trade imbalance in goods trade between China and the EU narrowed in recent years? How intensive is trade in services between the EU and China? What are the EU's main export items to China? How does China's export basket look like? You can find the answers to these and other questions in our EPRS publication on China produced in collaboration with the European University Institute's GlobalStat on the world's main economies. This is an updated edition of an ‘At a Glance’ note published in June 2016.

International Agreements in Progress: EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

04-10-2018

The free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated in 2015 with Vietnam has been described as the most ambitious deal of its type ever between the EU and a developing country. Not only will it eliminate over 99 % of customs duties on goods, it will also open up Vietnamese services markets to EU companies and strengthen protection of EU investments in the country. According to European Commission figures, the FTA could boost Vietnam's booming economy by as much as 15 % of GDP, with Vietnamese exports to Europe ...

The free trade agreement (FTA) negotiated in 2015 with Vietnam has been described as the most ambitious deal of its type ever between the EU and a developing country. Not only will it eliminate over 99 % of customs duties on goods, it will also open up Vietnamese services markets to EU companies and strengthen protection of EU investments in the country. According to European Commission figures, the FTA could boost Vietnam's booming economy by as much as 15 % of GDP, with Vietnamese exports to Europe growing by over one third. For the EU, the agreement is an important stepping stone to a wider trade deal with south-east Asia. However, Vietnamese manufacturing sectors may suffer from competition with the EU. NGOs and the European Parliament have also criticised the Commission for pursuing closer ties with a politically repressive regime, although the deal includes some safeguards against negative outcomes. Conclusion of the FTA was delayed by a 2017 opinion of the European Court of Justice. The Court ruled that the EU does not have the power to conclude agreements on certain investment-related issues on its own; therefore, the text as it then stood would also have to be ratified by the 28 Member States. To enable at least some parts of the FTA to be ratified more speedily at EU level, in August 2018 the EU and Vietnam agreed to take provisions on investment, for which Member State ratification is required, out of the main agreement and put them in a separate Investment Protection Agreement (IPA). Both the FTA and IPA are currently in translation and are expected to be formally submitted to the Council in late 2018, possibly enabling the FTA to come into force in the second half of 2019. Third edition. The ‘International Agreements in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. To view earlier editions of this briefing, please see: PE 614.702, February 2018.

China [What Think Tanks are thinking]

28-09-2018

China is a major strategic partner for the European Union, despite divergences on human rights issues, as well as on some economic and foreign policies. At their 20th EU-China summit in July, the two sides agreed to further develop their partnership and to seek to avoid global trade wars, which many analysts fear could be triggered by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies. They agreed, in principle, to support reform of the World Trade Organization, which has been snubbed by President ...

China is a major strategic partner for the European Union, despite divergences on human rights issues, as well as on some economic and foreign policies. At their 20th EU-China summit in July, the two sides agreed to further develop their partnership and to seek to avoid global trade wars, which many analysts fear could be triggered by US President Donald Trump’s protectionist policies. They agreed, in principle, to support reform of the World Trade Organization, which has been snubbed by President Trump. However, China’s increasingly close military ties with Russia cause concern in the EU. Trade, security and connectivity will be important topics of the 12th ASEM (EU-Asia) summit in October, which will gather heads of state or government of 51 European and Asian countries. 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 March 2018. One of the forthcoming publications in this series will be devoted to wider EU-Asia relations.

China, the 16+1 format and the EU

07-09-2018

Since 2012, China has engaged 16 central and eastern European countries (CEECs), including 11 EU Member States and five Western Balkan countries under the 16+1 cooperation format, which it has portrayed as an innovative approach to regional cooperation. Although framed as multilateralism, in practice this format has remained largely bilateral and highly competitive in nature. While in 2012 the CEECs had enthusiastically embraced this form of cooperation as a chance to diversify their EU-focused economic ...

Since 2012, China has engaged 16 central and eastern European countries (CEECs), including 11 EU Member States and five Western Balkan countries under the 16+1 cooperation format, which it has portrayed as an innovative approach to regional cooperation. Although framed as multilateralism, in practice this format has remained largely bilateral and highly competitive in nature. While in 2012 the CEECs had enthusiastically embraced this form of cooperation as a chance to diversify their EU-focused economic relations in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, by 2018 some of them had voiced dissatisfaction with the economic results it had yielded for them. The 2018 Sofia summit guidelines for the first time stressed the need for a more balanced trade, reciprocity of market access and open tenders in infrastructure construction, thus echoing concerns the EU had repeatedly raised with China. Empirical evidence shows that China-CEEC trade had actually jumped prior to 2012, whereas afterwards it increased at a much slower pace, with Chinese exports to CEECs expanding much quicker than CEEC exports to China, thus generating an unbalanced trade that is heavily tilted in favour of China. Foreign direct investment (FDI) data reveal that while Chinese FDI is highly concentrated on the biggest CEECs, it accounts for an extremely low share of total FDI stock. Some smaller CEECs have started to attract Chinese FDI as well, although at comparatively low levels. Some of China's infrastructure construction projects in the CEECs have suffered setbacks in a regional environment governed by EU norms and regulations. The EU engages in the 16+1 as a summit observer, adheres to the principles of its 2016 strategy for China and works towards cooperation with China on physical and digital infrastructure - through the EU-China Connectivity Platform. It has added the Berlin Process to its Western Balkans policy and has issued a new strategy providing for a credible enlargement perspective for and an enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans. This updates an 'at a glance' note, China, the 16+1 cooperation format and the EU, of March 2017.

China's Arctic policy: How China aligns rights and interests

24-04-2018

Unlike the Arctic states, China has no territorial sovereignty and related sovereign rights to resource extraction and fishing in the Arctic. Faced with very limited rights as a non-Arctic state, China has been eager to design strategies to bridge the widening gap between the legal and institutional constraints in the Arctic and its growing Arctic interests. It has developed a self-defined Arctic identity as a 'near-Arctic state' and sought – and in 2013 gained – observer status in the Arctic Council ...

Unlike the Arctic states, China has no territorial sovereignty and related sovereign rights to resource extraction and fishing in the Arctic. Faced with very limited rights as a non-Arctic state, China has been eager to design strategies to bridge the widening gap between the legal and institutional constraints in the Arctic and its growing Arctic interests. It has developed a self-defined Arctic identity as a 'near-Arctic state' and sought – and in 2013 gained – observer status in the Arctic Council, to prepare the ground for a future expanded foothold in the region. China's first-ever white paper on Arctic policy of 26 January 2018 seeks to justify the country's Arctic ambitions through its history of Arctic research and the challenges and opportunities that rapid climate change in the Arctic present the country. China acknowledges for the first time that its Arctic interests are no longer limited to scientific research but extend to a variety of commercial activities. These are embedded in a new China-led cooperation initiative which aims to build a 'Polar Silk Road' that connects China with Europe via the Arctic and corresponds to one of two new 'blue ocean passages' extending from China's 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, launched in 2013. The white paper stresses China's commitment to upholding the institutional and legal framework for Arctic governance and to respecting the sovereign rights of the Arctic states. On the other hand, it asserts China's right as a non-Arctic state to participate in Arctic affairs under international law. China's Arctic policy suggests a strong desire to push for the internationalisation of the Arctic's regional governance system. The white paper is not a strategy document, and is more interesting for what it omits, such as the national security dimension that is a major driver of China's Arctic ambitions.

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.

International Agreements - A Rolling Check-List

09-03-2018

This rolling check-list offers an implementation monitoring tool that allows for a systematic overview of the review and monitoring clauses, sunset clauses and also management and implementation clauses that are included in international agreements concluded between the EU and third countries. It is produced by the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), the European Parliament's in-house research service and think-tank, as part of its work on the evaluation ...

This rolling check-list offers an implementation monitoring tool that allows for a systematic overview of the review and monitoring clauses, sunset clauses and also management and implementation clauses that are included in international agreements concluded between the EU and third countries. It is produced by the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS), the European Parliament's in-house research service and think-tank, as part of its work on the evaluation of the EU policy cycle.

Upcoming events

25-06-2019
Meeting EU energy and climate goals: Energy storage for grids and low-carbon mobility
Other event -
EPRS

Partners

Stay connected

email update imageEmail updates system

You can follow anyone or anything linked to the Parliament using the email updates system, which sends updates directly to your mailbox. This includes the latest news about MEPs, committees, the news services or the Think Tank.

You can access the system from any page on the Parliament website. To sign up and receive notifications on Think Tank, simply submit your email address, select the subject you are interested in, indicate how often you want to be informed (daily, weekly or monthly) and confirm the registration by clicking on the link that will be emailed to you.

RSS imageRSS feeds

Follow all news and updates from the European Parliament website by making use of our RSS feed.

Please click on the link below to configure your RSS feed.