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Prospects for EU-Asia connectivity - The 'European way to connectivity'

12-10-2018

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established strategic partnerships with four Asian countries, intensified cooperation with the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN), and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. As an implementation of its 2016 Global Strategy, the EU has carried out ...

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established strategic partnerships with four Asian countries, intensified cooperation with the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN), and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. As an implementation of its 2016 Global Strategy, the EU has carried out a mapping exercise on Euro-Asian connectivity, followed by the adoption of a joint communication on 'Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU strategy' on 19 September 2018. The strategy proposes that the EU engage with its Asian partners through a sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based approach to connectivity, exploiting existing and planned EU networks. It acknowledges a significant investment gap in connectivity and recognises the need to mobilise and strengthen cooperation with private investors, national and international institutions, and multilateral development banks. The strategy is part of the EU's contribution to the ASEM12 Summit, which is to take place in Brussels on 18-19 October 2018. Presented by Vice President/High Representative, Federica Mogherini, as the 'European way to connectivity', the strategy was immediately perceived as the EU response to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative is currently raising concerns in the EU and in several participating countries, some of which are worried about possible 'debt traps'.

Ásia do Sudeste

01-01-2018

A UE procura desenvolver laços mais estreitos com os países da Ásia do Sudeste e promover a integração regional com a Associação das Nações do Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN). A UE é um ator económico forte na Ásia do Sudeste e um doador importante de ajuda ao desenvolvimento, agindo para fomentar o desenvolvimento das instituições, a democracia, a boa governação e os direitos humanos.

A UE procura desenvolver laços mais estreitos com os países da Ásia do Sudeste e promover a integração regional com a Associação das Nações do Sudeste Asiático (ASEAN). A UE é um ator económico forte na Ásia do Sudeste e um doador importante de ajuda ao desenvolvimento, agindo para fomentar o desenvolvimento das instituições, a democracia, a boa governação e os direitos humanos.

Benefits of EU international trade agreements

25-10-2017

Trade is the EU's most important link to the world beyond its borders. In force since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the transition to a common EU trade policy was completed in 1968. It is the EU's oldest instrument influencing the bloc's foreign relations. Today, Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the common trade policy as an exclusive EU competence. Following the procedure under that legal basis the EU negotiates, concludes and implements trade agreements ...

Trade is the EU's most important link to the world beyond its borders. In force since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the transition to a common EU trade policy was completed in 1968. It is the EU's oldest instrument influencing the bloc's foreign relations. Today, Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the common trade policy as an exclusive EU competence. Following the procedure under that legal basis the EU negotiates, concludes and implements trade agreements. Currently, the EU is negotiating and up-dating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 19 countries and 2 sub-regional blocs, namely the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Southern Common Market of South American countries (Mercado Común de Sur: Mercosur). Within the EU's latest trade strategy – the 2015 'Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment strategy', FTAs are considered instruments that contribute to the EU's objective of generating jobs and growth. About 31 million jobs in Europe depend, directly or indirectly, on the EU and its Member States' ability to trade. In other words, EU external trade concerns almost one in every seven jobs in Europe. In France, for example, over 2.2 million jobs rely on French exports outside the EU. Around 90 % of future global growth is expected to be generated outside Europe's borders. Figures show that the EU share of world GDP has slowly decreased in recent years (see graph below). Against this background, the EU needs to seize trade opportunities beyond its borders in order to gain higher levels of growth in Europe.

The future of EU - ASEAN relations

20-04-2017

Marking the 40th anniversary of the start of their dialogue ASEAN and the EU have agreed to work towards establishing a strategic partnership. While trade has always been the cornerstone of the relationship - ASEAN is the EU’s third largest trade partner - the EU’s ambition to expand its role as a global actor demand increased engagement. Both sides face common challenges that can only be addressed through joint responses that involve all stakeholders. To be strategic the partnership must embrace ...

Marking the 40th anniversary of the start of their dialogue ASEAN and the EU have agreed to work towards establishing a strategic partnership. While trade has always been the cornerstone of the relationship - ASEAN is the EU’s third largest trade partner - the EU’s ambition to expand its role as a global actor demand increased engagement. Both sides face common challenges that can only be addressed through joint responses that involve all stakeholders. To be strategic the partnership must embrace all aspects, from trade to energy, from climate change to security issues, from human rights to sustainable development. Deepening and enhancing relations between one of the most dynamic region in the world and the largest and most affluent market will bring important benefits to both European and ASEAN citizens. The last years have seen an increase in contacts but the many challenges faced today by the EU, internally and in its close neighbourhood, risk to require all attention and put the EU-ASEAN relations at risk. Finally the study argues that strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the relationship would, besides supporting representative democracy in Southeast Asia, contribute to maintaining the momentum launched in 2012.

Challenges to Freedom of the Seas and Maritime Rivalry in Asia

14-03-2017

China’s New Maritime Silk Road policy poses geostrategic challenges and offers some opportunities for the US and its allies in Asia-Pacific. To offset China’s westward focus, the US seeks to create a global alliance strategy with the aim to maintain a balance of power in Eurasia, to avoid a strong Russia-China or China-EU partnership fostered on economic cooperation. For the EU, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative by improving infrastructure may contribute to economic development in neighbouring ...

China’s New Maritime Silk Road policy poses geostrategic challenges and offers some opportunities for the US and its allies in Asia-Pacific. To offset China’s westward focus, the US seeks to create a global alliance strategy with the aim to maintain a balance of power in Eurasia, to avoid a strong Russia-China or China-EU partnership fostered on economic cooperation. For the EU, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative by improving infrastructure may contribute to economic development in neighbouring countries and in Africa but present also risks in terms of unfair economic competition and increased Chinese domination. Furthermore, China’s behaviour in the South China Sea and rebuff of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in July 2016, put the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at risk with possible consequences to freedom of the seas. Increasing relations with China could also affect EU-US relations at a time of China-US tension. To face these challenges, a stronger EU, taking more responsibility in Defence and Security, including inside NATO, is needed.

Autor externo

Patrick HÉBRARD (Fondation pour la recherche stratégique - FRS, Paris, France)

EU-Philippines relations: Beyond trade and aid?

17-01-2017

Recent controversial statements by new Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte are threatening to derail progress towards closer partnership between his country and the EU. Nevertheless, practical cooperation between the two sides, which began with European Community development aid 50 years ago, continues essentially unchanged. The EU and its Member States are still among the leading donors of aid to the Philippines, and EU-Philippines trade and investment is substantial. However, economic ties still ...

Recent controversial statements by new Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte are threatening to derail progress towards closer partnership between his country and the EU. Nevertheless, practical cooperation between the two sides, which began with European Community development aid 50 years ago, continues essentially unchanged. The EU and its Member States are still among the leading donors of aid to the Philippines, and EU-Philippines trade and investment is substantial. However, economic ties still offer considerable untapped potential. A free trade agreement is currently under negotiation. The two sides have already concluded a partnership and cooperation agreement, now awaiting ratification. Once in force, this will help to strengthen not only economic ties, but also cooperation in the many areas where the EU and the Philippines have shared interests, such as migration, fisheries and maritime labour. Particularly under Duterte's predecessor, the pro-Western Benigno Aquino (2010 2016), EU-Philippines relations were based not only on shared interests but also values. The Philippines is a democracy and, due to its history, one of the most westernised countries in Asia. Shared values have helped to make the country one of the EU's closest allies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While Duterte's anti-EU statements have not ended such cooperation, they have created uncertainty over future developments. The EU has adopted a wait-and-see approach; less cordial relations are likely to result.

Driving trade in the ASEAN region: Progress of FTA negotiations

14-12-2016

After negotiations between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a regional free trade agreement (FTA) were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with the individual ASEAN member states. To date, six of them have started talks on a bilateral FTA with the EU. Negotiations have already been concluded with two of these countries, Singapore and Vietnam, although those FTAs still await ratification. The EU's final objective is to have a region-to-region ...

After negotiations between the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for a regional free trade agreement (FTA) were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with the individual ASEAN member states. To date, six of them have started talks on a bilateral FTA with the EU. Negotiations have already been concluded with two of these countries, Singapore and Vietnam, although those FTAs still await ratification. The EU's final objective is to have a region-to-region agreement with ASEAN, based on the bilateral FTAs concluded with the ASEAN member states. Once the conditions required for this to happen are in place, the EU and its ASEAN partners will need to determine how to bring all these bilateral agreements under one regional FTA, with a view to including ASEAN member states with which the EU does not have bilateral agreements. It is in the EU's strategic interest to strengthen economic cooperation with ASEAN, and to maintain its competitive position in the Asia-Pacific region, given its economic importance, combined with the expanding intraregional trade and investment relations and the growing number of regional integration initiatives. Back in 2006, in its communication entitled 'Global Europe: Competing in the world', the European Commission identified ASEAN as a potential FTA partner that should be given priority based on key economic criteria. The Commission's new 2015 trade strategy, entitled 'Trade for all – Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy', reaffirmed this objective.

APEC – Driving trade and regional integration

16-11-2016

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is one of the most important regional economic groupings. Its long-standing commitment is to enhance economic growth, promote trade and create prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. From its launch in 1989 to 2014, total APEC trade grew more than seven times, exceeding US$22 trillion, and GDP increased from US$11 trillion to US$44 trillion. With Peru hosting the APEC process in 2016, the 24th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the forum's highest level political ...

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is one of the most important regional economic groupings. Its long-standing commitment is to enhance economic growth, promote trade and create prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. From its launch in 1989 to 2014, total APEC trade grew more than seven times, exceeding US$22 trillion, and GDP increased from US$11 trillion to US$44 trillion. With Peru hosting the APEC process in 2016, the 24th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, the forum's highest level political meeting each year, will take place in Lima, on 19-20 November 2016.

Indonesia: Political landscape under President Jokowi

24-10-2016

After the downfall of former dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesia underwent a successful democratic transition. Current President Jokowi heads a coalition government with an ambitious reform agenda tackling some of the country's long-term problems, but the lack of progress by his predecessors on this front suggests that he will find it difficult to achieve real change.

After the downfall of former dictator Suharto in 1998, Indonesia underwent a successful democratic transition. Current President Jokowi heads a coalition government with an ambitious reform agenda tackling some of the country's long-term problems, but the lack of progress by his predecessors on this front suggests that he will find it difficult to achieve real change.

Thailand in 2016: Restoring Democracy or Reversing it?

18-04-2016

After staging a military coup against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, a junta has been ruling Thailand since 22 May 2014. It has drastically restricted political activities and freedom of speech. There have been numerous human rights abuses, including torture. Under a ‘roadmap to democracy’, a referendum on a new constitution is planned for August 2017 and could be followed by elections at a later stage. However, the military might retain power until the king’s successor accedes to the throne ...

After staging a military coup against the Yingluck Shinawatra government, a junta has been ruling Thailand since 22 May 2014. It has drastically restricted political activities and freedom of speech. There have been numerous human rights abuses, including torture. Under a ‘roadmap to democracy’, a referendum on a new constitution is planned for August 2017 and could be followed by elections at a later stage. However, the military might retain power until the king’s successor accedes to the throne, in order to guarantee stability. Despite close trade ties, the EU has suspended the signing of a partnership and cooperation agreement and negotiations on a free trade agreement until democracy is restored. In April 2015, Thailand received a ‘yellow card’ warning by the European Commission for problems relating to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

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