589

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Author
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EU free trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand

15-02-2018

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposals, submitted on 13 September 2017 and referred to Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA). For the Commission, the proposals are a step towards fulfilment of the key criteria for the EU's trade relations with third countries, namely the criteria of effectiveness, transparency, and the safeguarding of the European social and ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposals, submitted on 13 September 2017 and referred to Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA). For the Commission, the proposals are a step towards fulfilment of the key criteria for the EU's trade relations with third countries, namely the criteria of effectiveness, transparency, and the safeguarding of the European social and regulatory model as underlined in the European Commission's 'Trade for all' communication. One of the objectives of the Commission's 2017 work programme was to open negotiations with Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are important trade partners for the EU and vice versa. In 2015, total trade in commercial services amounted to €4.3 billion between the EU and New Zealand, and €21.9 billion between the EU and Australia. In recent years, the EU has concluded bilateral agreements containing trade-related arrangements. Since 2015, the Commission has been preparing the ground for a free trade agreement (FTA) with both countries. On 26 October 2017 the European Parliament adopted two resolutions in which it called on the Council to authorise the Commission to start negotiations for trade and investment agreements with Australia and with New Zealand. The Parliament called on the Commission to outline the general future architecture of these trade agreements as rapidly as possible. The Parliament also stressed that the future FTAs 'must lead to improved market access and trade facilitation on the ground, create decent jobs, ensure gender equality for the benefit of the citizens on both sides, encourage sustainable development, uphold EU standards, safeguard services of general interest, and respect democratic procedures while boosting EU export opportunities'. The Commission conducted one impact assessment for the two proposals for free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand and its conclusions are considered as valid for the EU's subsequent negotiations with both countries.

International Agreements in Progress: EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement

14-02-2018

The free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam has been described as the most ambitious deal of its type ever concluded 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 ...

The free trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam has been described as the most ambitious deal of its type ever concluded 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 EU-south-east Asia trade deal. Despite the obvious economic benefits of the FTA for Vietnam, some of its more vulnerable manufacturing sectors may suffer from competition with the EU. NGOs have also criticised the EU for pursuing closer ties with a politically repressive regime known for its human rights abuses, although the deal includes some safeguards against negative outcomes. Although the content of the FTA was already agreed in 2015, ratification has been delayed by a 2017 opinion of the European Court of Justice. The Court argued that some aspects of the EU-Singapore FTA, which is similar to the Vietnam FTA, are 'mixed competences', meaning that the FTA as it stands will have to be ratified not only by the EU but also by the 28 Member States. The Commission and Council are now considering whether to modify the agreement so that parts of it can be ratified more speedily by the EU alone. Second edition. The ‘International Agreements in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification.

Regulating imports of cultural goods

08-02-2018

Antiquities and valuable works of art from impoverished or war-torn countries and regions are often illegally acquired, sold and imported into the European Union (EU). In addition to damaging or destroying the archaeological sites and the artefacts themselves, illicit trade in looted cultural goods has also been identified as a source of income for terrorists and organised crime groups. Currently, with the exception of two specific measures for Iraq and Syria, there is no EU legislation covering ...

Antiquities and valuable works of art from impoverished or war-torn countries and regions are often illegally acquired, sold and imported into the European Union (EU). In addition to damaging or destroying the archaeological sites and the artefacts themselves, illicit trade in looted cultural goods has also been identified as a source of income for terrorists and organised crime groups. Currently, with the exception of two specific measures for Iraq and Syria, there is no EU legislation covering the import of cultural goods from third countries entering the EU. The national legislation in this area introduced by some Member States are divergent. Therefore, an EU-level approach would ensure that imports of cultural goods are subject to uniform controls along all the EU external borders. The legislative proposal, as a follow-up to other EU initiatives aimed at strengthening the fight against terrorism financing, intends to prevent the import and storage in the EU of cultural goods that have been removed from a third country illegally, and thereby to combat trafficking in cultural goods, deprive terrorists of a source of income, and protect cultural heritage.

Policy Departments' Monthly Highlights- February 2018

05-02-2018

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

EU framework for FDI screening

19-01-2018

On 13 September 2017, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing a framework for screening foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the EU on grounds of security or public order. The proposal is a response to a rapidly evolving and increasingly complex investment landscape. It aims to strike a balance between maintaining the EU's general openness to FDI inflows and ensuring that the EU's essential interests are not undermined. Recent FDI trends and policies of emerging ...

On 13 September 2017, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a regulation establishing a framework for screening foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the EU on grounds of security or public order. The proposal is a response to a rapidly evolving and increasingly complex investment landscape. It aims to strike a balance between maintaining the EU's general openness to FDI inflows and ensuring that the EU's essential interests are not undermined. Recent FDI trends and policies of emerging FDI providers have cast doubt on the effectiveness of the EU's decentralised and fragmented system of monitoring FDI inflows to adequately address the potential (cross-border) impact of FDI inflows on security or public order without EU-coordinated cooperation among Member States. The proposal's objective is neither to harmonise the formal FDI screening mechanisms currently used by less than half of the Member States nor to replace them with a single EU mechanism. It aims to enhance cooperation on FDI screening between the Commission and Member States, to increase legal certainty and transparency. Member States, stakeholders and academia are divided in their views on the proposal.

Policy Departments’ Monthly Highlights - January 2018

15-01-2018

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

The Monthly Highlights publication provides an overview, at a glance, of the on-going work of the policy departments, including a selection of the latest and forthcoming publications, and a list of future events.

Review of dual-use export controls

12-01-2018

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. This regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since ...

Certain goods and technologies have legitimate civilian applications but can also be used for the development of weapons of mass-destruction, terrorist acts and human rights violations; these so-called ‘dual-use’ goods are subject to the European Union’s export control regime. This regime is now being revised, mainly to take account of significant technological developments and to create a more level playing field among EU Member States. The proposed regulation recasts the regulation in force since 2009. Among other elements, the proposal introduces a controversial new ‘human security’ dimension to export controls, to prevent the abuse of certain cyber-surveillance technologies by regimes with a questionable human rights record. Stakeholders are divided over the incorporation of human rights considerations, with the technology industry particularly concerned that it might lose out to non-European competitors. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission issued a joint statement on the review of the dual-use export control system in 2014 and the European Parliament has since adopted several resolutions related to the issue. Fourth edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure. Please note this document has been designed for on-line viewing.

Import of cultural goods

19-12-2017

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, adopted on 13 July 2017 and now under discussion in Parliament and Council. The proposal aims to prevent the import and storage in the EU of cultural goods illicitly exported from a third country, in order to reduce trafficking in cultural goods, combat terrorism financing and protect cultural heritage, especially archaeological objects ...

This note seeks to provide an initial analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the European Commission's impact assessment (IA) accompanying the above proposal, adopted on 13 July 2017 and now under discussion in Parliament and Council. The proposal aims to prevent the import and storage in the EU of cultural goods illicitly exported from a third country, in order to reduce trafficking in cultural goods, combat terrorism financing and protect cultural heritage, especially archaeological objects in source countries affected by armed conflict (explanatory memorandum of the proposal, p. 3). The market for antiques, ancient art and collectibles of older age constitutes 24 % of the global legal art and antiques market. The European market share accounts for 35 % of this global market, with the UK in the lead with 24 % (due to its large auction houses), followed by Switzerland (6 %), France (5 %), Germany (3 %), and Austria, Spain and the Netherlands (each around 0.5% respectively). Based on Eurostat figures, the estimated annual value of imports of classical antiquities and ancient art declared to EU customs may be around €3.7 billion per year (IA, p. 10). The IA explains that the current Common Nomenclature tariff heading (9705) used for import of antiquities and ancient art objects is rather broad, including also a variety of other goods of interest to collectors, making it difficult to estimate the total EU imports of cultural goods (IA, p. 10). Regarding the illicit trade of cultural goods, there are numerous underlying factors, which cannot be changed by this initiative, according to the IA (p. 11). These include, for example, poverty and military conflicts prevalent in many regions rich in cultural heritage sites, technological progress in various digging tools (such as metal-detectors, power drills, explosives), the market demand for such objects, mostly concentrated in Europe and North America, as well as cross-border transaction and e-commerce (IA, pp. 11-12). Estimates show that 80-90 % of global antiquities sales are of goods with illicit origin, and these sales are worth US$3 to 6 billion annually (IA, p. 12). The illicit sales of cultural goods often stem from terrorist activities and serve as a means to finance terrorism (IA, p. 14). For example, the Islamist profit from illicit trade in antiquities and archaeological treasures is estimated at US$150-200 million (IA, p. 15).

EU-Japan trade deal finalised

14-12-2017

Following the political agreement in principle reached in July 2017, a final accord on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was announced on 8 December 2017. The Commission aims that the agreement come into effect before the end of its mandate in 2019, after the approval of the Council and the European Parliament. However, negotiations on investment protection standards and investment protection dispute resolution will continue.

Following the political agreement in principle reached in July 2017, a final accord on the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) was announced on 8 December 2017. The Commission aims that the agreement come into effect before the end of its mandate in 2019, after the approval of the Council and the European Parliament. However, negotiations on investment protection standards and investment protection dispute resolution will continue.

The EU’s Market Access Strategy: does it reach its main goals?

13-12-2017

The EU Market Access Strategy (MAS) and associated Market Access Partnership (MAP) is a EU trade policy operational instrument designed to identify and remove market access restrictions confronting EU firms in third country export markets. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a steady increase in the number of trade restricting measures imposed by EU trading partners. The MAS is a key tool through which the EU seeks to work with third countries to prevent, remove and reduce market access ...

The EU Market Access Strategy (MAS) and associated Market Access Partnership (MAP) is a EU trade policy operational instrument designed to identify and remove market access restrictions confronting EU firms in third country export markets. Since the 2008 financial crisis, there has been a steady increase in the number of trade restricting measures imposed by EU trading partners. The MAS is a key tool through which the EU seeks to work with third countries to prevent, remove and reduce market access barriers. There is broad support for the MAS among stakeholders who are aware of the mechanism and a virtual consensus that greater emphasis should be given by the European Union to identifying and removing barriers to trade and investment in third countries. Two types of challenges confront the MAS and, as a result, its effectiveness. One centres on the identification of protectionist measures and the ability of the EU to induce policy changes by trading partners. The other is to improve awareness among EU exporters of the existence of the MAP and leveraging the tools that are available to address market access restrictions. The European Parliament can contribute to addressing these challenges by engaging with national parliaments and constituencies on the existence and utility of the MAS and in advocating that market access issues be prioritised in the activities of the European Commission. The European Parliament can also play an increased role in helping to achieve the goals of the MAS and support EU exports by raising market access issues when they engage with third country counterparts.

External author

Bernard HOEKMAN, Matteo FIORINI, Roberta IGLIOZZI, Naïs RALAISON and Aydin YLDIRIM.

Upcoming events

19-02-2018
LIBE Mini hearing on EU Citizenship, 19 February 2018
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LIBE
19-02-2018
Women as agents of change in the Southern Partnership States – Hearing – 19.02.2018
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FEMM
19-02-2018
Public Procurement Strategy Package
Workshop -
IMCO

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