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Civil Society's Concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

14-10-2014

When the EU and the US launched negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in June 2013, civil society was invited to play ‘a constructive and engaged part in defining the content’ of this strategic deal. Interest in the TTIP has gone beyond its expected economic impact: the agreement has been seen by some as a way to strengthen the West’s weakening grip on the world economy, and by others as a tool for big multinationals to secure unfair advantages at the expense of ...

When the EU and the US launched negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in June 2013, civil society was invited to play ‘a constructive and engaged part in defining the content’ of this strategic deal. Interest in the TTIP has gone beyond its expected economic impact: the agreement has been seen by some as a way to strengthen the West’s weakening grip on the world economy, and by others as a tool for big multinationals to secure unfair advantages at the expense of the rest of society. Civil society groups have come forward with various conditions, demands (including stopping the negotiations) and concrete proposals – in most cases to ensure that the TTIP represents their interests. The TTIP requires extremely complex international negotiations, and its final content is still not known. The result will depend on the outcome of the negotiations and the extent to which they respond to civil society's concerns. However, much will also depend on the way the European Parliament and the Council agree to transpose the provisions of the new deal – if concluded and approved – into existing EU legislation.

Universal Suffrage in Hong Kong Acquires Chinese Characteristics

15-09-2014

China's legislature, the People's National Congress (NPC), has made recommendations about the 2017 direct election of Hong Kong's Chief Executive, foreseen in Hong Kong's constitution. Hong Kong's legislature could reject the recommendations, although the NPC has final say. China's authorities have warned that civil disobedience and protestors' calls to respect international standards may have serious consequences. The European Parliament has called for 'international standards' to be respected in ...

China's legislature, the People's National Congress (NPC), has made recommendations about the 2017 direct election of Hong Kong's Chief Executive, foreseen in Hong Kong's constitution. Hong Kong's legislature could reject the recommendations, although the NPC has final say. China's authorities have warned that civil disobedience and protestors' calls to respect international standards may have serious consequences. The European Parliament has called for 'international standards' to be respected in Hong Kong's politics. The selection of candidates will be less free. A candidate will now need to gain the support of at least 50 % of the nomination committee, instead of the 12.5 % required in 2012. During public consultations, a number of initiatives were proposed to make the nomination process more democratic. Beijing has insisted that Hong Kong's administrators respect their nation and support China's jurisdiction over Hong Kong. The events in Hong Kong have been echoed in Macao. Beijing sees its relations with Hong Kong as a model for Taiwan, which it also hopes to incorporate into a 'one China, two systems' arrangement. In the past, the European Parliament has adopted positions on electoral reform in Hong Kong. The EP has stated that 'respect for the full autonomy of Hong Kong is one of the key issues upon which to base the development of future relations between the EU and China'.

The Role of the EP in Shaping the EU’s Trade Policy after the Entry into Force of the Treaty of Lisbon

09-07-2014

In the few years that have passed since the Treaty of Lisbon amplified the European Parliament’s authority, the institution has reshaped the EU’s trade policy – a domain that has become the exclusive competence of the EU. Parliament has not, as some feared it would, compromised the Union’s technical approach. Rather, it has given the EU’s Common Commercial Policy (CCP) democratic legitimacy and emphasised human rights and environmental concerns. While the Treaty of Lisbon made this change possible ...

In the few years that have passed since the Treaty of Lisbon amplified the European Parliament’s authority, the institution has reshaped the EU’s trade policy – a domain that has become the exclusive competence of the EU. Parliament has not, as some feared it would, compromised the Union’s technical approach. Rather, it has given the EU’s Common Commercial Policy (CCP) democratic legitimacy and emphasised human rights and environmental concerns. While the Treaty of Lisbon made this change possible, it did not make it inevitable; Parliament has exercised creativity in interpreting its co-legislative powers and modelling a significant role for itself. As the fifth anniversary in December 2014 of the entry of the Treaty of Lisbon approaches, Parliament is further consolidating its powers of oversight and decision. The moment is ripe to survey the lessons of the past four-and-a-half years and to buttress the institution for the challenges to come.

Civil Society and Media in Myanmar/Burma's Political Transition

22-05-2014

Since Myanmar/Burma launched its political transition began in 2011, civil society in the country has become more active and more visible. The parliament has opened its doors to voices from the outside – although hesitantly and on ad hoc basis. Non-state actors are now involved in revising the constitution, and the result will be pivotal for the credibility of the general elections in 2015 and, by extension, the fate of the country's democratic reforms. The media in Myanmar/Burma have played an ...

Since Myanmar/Burma launched its political transition began in 2011, civil society in the country has become more active and more visible. The parliament has opened its doors to voices from the outside – although hesitantly and on ad hoc basis. Non-state actors are now involved in revising the constitution, and the result will be pivotal for the credibility of the general elections in 2015 and, by extension, the fate of the country's democratic reforms. The media in Myanmar/Burma have played an important role in making political processes more transparent. Yet journalists still work in climate of uncertainty and intimidation, while unclear legal provisions discourage the free expression of opinion, especially on the internet. In 2013, the EU adopted a comprehensive framework to support democracy, peace and development in Myanmar/Burma. To attain the policy's objectives, the country's diverse and dynamic civil society must be closely involved.

Kingdom of Thailand: A Distressing Standoff

26-02-2014

Snap elections for Thailand’s House of Representatives were held on 2 February 2014 against a backdrop of public demonstrations, violence and political polarisation. Rather than end the crisis, the ballot has further enflamed the tense situation in the country, and re-run elections have yet to be completed in some constituencies. Between the 2011 general elections, won by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), and November 2013, Thailand experienced a period of superficial calm. Yet, the divisions between PTP ...

Snap elections for Thailand’s House of Representatives were held on 2 February 2014 against a backdrop of public demonstrations, violence and political polarisation. Rather than end the crisis, the ballot has further enflamed the tense situation in the country, and re-run elections have yet to be completed in some constituencies. Between the 2011 general elections, won by the Pheu Thai Party (PTP), and November 2013, Thailand experienced a period of superficial calm. Yet, the divisions between PTP, backed by Thailand’s rural communities, and the opposition, supported mainly by Bangkok's middle class and by constituencies in the south, remained irreconcilable. The fragile political peace was broken when the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's (PTP) introduced an amnesty bill that would have allowed her brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra (deposed in 2006), to return from exile without being imprisoned for corruption. The political stalemate in Thailand, which has continued for eight years in one form or another, highlights the importance of holding a comprehensive debate about the country’s political culture and a thorough re-negotiation of the way in which it is governed. Yet such a prospect appears unlikely in the current situation, as positions are ever more entrenched.

Another Day of Protests in Bangkok, with No Compromise in Sight

15-01-2014

The European Union has called on all parties to seize the opportunity offered by the proposed early elections. Since 2011, Thailand’s government has restored stability and defused tensions… at least on the surface. Yet, the possibility of a new crisis was never excluded. Reforms proposed by the current Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, have proved controversial within her party and among the opposition. Yingluck withdrew support to a controversial amnesty bill after the Senate rejected it, but ...

The European Union has called on all parties to seize the opportunity offered by the proposed early elections. Since 2011, Thailand’s government has restored stability and defused tensions… at least on the surface. Yet, the possibility of a new crisis was never excluded. Reforms proposed by the current Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, have proved controversial within her party and among the opposition. Yingluck withdrew support to a controversial amnesty bill after the Senate rejected it, but failed to stop the brewing conflict. Thailand's Constitutional Court also ruled that the government’s attempts to re-establish a fully elected Senate were unconstitutional. Despite Yingluck's dissolution of the Parliament, protestors have continued to demonstrate, demanding the establishment of an unelected 'people's council'. Even if a short-term solution can be found, stability will be hard to achieve without a broad discussion on the political order.

China Pledges to 'Deepen' Reforms, Though Implementation Remains to Be Seen

25-11-2013

On 12 November 2013, the Central Committee of China's Communist Party adopted measures to 'deepen reform'. The reforms would support China's economic development. Legal reform will continue, but the Party’s supremacy and application of law remain key issues. Re-education through labour is to be abandoned. China will gradually reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty. Public ownership will remain at the centre of the Chinese economic system. State-owned enterprises will lose some of ...

On 12 November 2013, the Central Committee of China's Communist Party adopted measures to 'deepen reform'. The reforms would support China's economic development. Legal reform will continue, but the Party’s supremacy and application of law remain key issues. Re-education through labour is to be abandoned. China will gradually reduce the number of crimes subject to the death penalty. Public ownership will remain at the centre of the Chinese economic system. State-owned enterprises will lose some of their privileges. The private sector is encouraged to participate in state-owned projects. Couples in which one parent is an only child will be allowed to have two children. The strict control over urban residence rights, which deprives millions of migrant workers social and cultural benefits, is to be loosened. Accessing household registration rights in big cities will remain tightly restricted. The resolution specifies, 'It is to be permitted that rural collective and construction land use is sold, rented or leased'. The reform includes shaping 'an online public opinion structure that integrates positive guidance'. The resolution of the Party's Central Committee includes issues that China's authorities are often reluctant to address. The Party has re-affirmed its authority in all areas of reform. Most proposals represent a continuation of ongoing reforms. The measures’ success will depend on their implementation.

Typhoon Haiyan Bares Shortcomings in Disaster Preparedness

20-11-2013

Tropical Typhoon Haiyan may serve as a stress case for the global disaster preparedness system. It will take years for the Philippines to recover. The EU should step up its efforts to build resilience and evaluate the ways in which it allocates funds in crisis-prone countries. Access to food and drinking water are the biggest problems. An estimated 56 400 women are at risk of gender-related violence. The EU has made EUR 20 million available for humanitarian aid and recovery. Including EU Member States ...

Tropical Typhoon Haiyan may serve as a stress case for the global disaster preparedness system. It will take years for the Philippines to recover. The EU should step up its efforts to build resilience and evaluate the ways in which it allocates funds in crisis-prone countries. Access to food and drinking water are the biggest problems. An estimated 56 400 women are at risk of gender-related violence. The EU has made EUR 20 million available for humanitarian aid and recovery. Including EU Member States' assistance, the EU contribution amounts to EUR 102.8 million. The Philippines is better prepared for natural disasters than many other developing countries. Typhoon Haiyan nevertheless laid bare the insufficiency of disaster management mechanisms. In the ten days following the cyclone, 29 % of the assistance requested by the UN had been contributed. China’s initial reluctance to join international donors led to accusations that Beijing was influenced by its maritime dispute with the Philippines.

Taiwan - The Risk of Marginalisation: Economic Situation and Trade Relations with the EU

01-10-2013

Taiwan, a member of the exclusive group of advanced Asian economies, increasingly faces the challenges typical of many post-industrial societies: growing inequality, an ageing population and competitive pressures from emerging economies. The island's diplomatic status created additional challenges for Taiwan’s export-oriented economy. The explosion of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) as a result of the deadlock of the Doha Round of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation has left Taiwan ...

Taiwan, a member of the exclusive group of advanced Asian economies, increasingly faces the challenges typical of many post-industrial societies: growing inequality, an ageing population and competitive pressures from emerging economies. The island's diplomatic status created additional challenges for Taiwan’s export-oriented economy. The explosion of preferential trade agreements (PTAs) as a result of the deadlock of the Doha Round of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation has left Taiwan virtually excluded from the PTA process. To prevent its trade partners from turning elsewhere, Taipei pursues an active and 'flexible' commercial diplomacy. The means participating in plurilateral initiatives (such as the Trade in Services Agreement within the World Trade Organisation), normalising relations with the People's Republic of China and working on bilateral agreements. Taipei has recently concluded economic cooperation agreements with two countries with which the island does not have diplomatic relations: New Zealand and Singapore. These accords have offered Taiwan hope that it may also eventually join more ambitious trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While this sort of adherence is possible under the WTO framework Taipei will also have to make concessions and earn the acceptance of the other parties.

EU-Malaysia Economic and Trade Relations

26-09-2012

Malaysia's economy is one of the most open in the world. An export-oriented strategy helped the country to transform itself from a developing economy into a newly industrialised, middle income economy in only a few decades. Today Malaysia's goal is to become a high income country by 2020. Malaysia's economic base is varied, and trade is dominated by electronics and intermediate goods. However, the economy remains somewhat cushioned by the commodities sector, and its competitiveness relies largely ...

Malaysia's economy is one of the most open in the world. An export-oriented strategy helped the country to transform itself from a developing economy into a newly industrialised, middle income economy in only a few decades. Today Malaysia's goal is to become a high income country by 2020. Malaysia's economic base is varied, and trade is dominated by electronics and intermediate goods. However, the economy remains somewhat cushioned by the commodities sector, and its competitiveness relies largely on low cost labour. These dependencies must decrease if the country is to achieve its objective of becoming a high income country. Improving education and administration, creating modern and better jobs, and liberalising the service sector therefore figure high on the government's agenda. For the European Union, Malaysia is the second trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), after Singapore. EU-Malaysian trade is focused on machinery and transport equipment, but opportunities are growing for the service sector. The two partners are currently negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement, although a region-to-region accord remains the ultimate goal for the EU.

Prihajajoči dogodki

20-02-2020
What is our political nature? Knowledge and reason in political decision-making
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