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China's growing role as a security actor in Africa

08-10-2019

China has emerged as an important economic, political but also security actor in Africa as a result of its 'Going out' policy officially launched in 2001, and the massive roll-out of its signature connectivity strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), since 2013. The presence of Chinese citizens and economic assets in Africa has grown substantially due to China's expanding trade with, and China-funded infrastructure projects in, African countries. Many of those countries are plagued by intrastate ...

China has emerged as an important economic, political but also security actor in Africa as a result of its 'Going out' policy officially launched in 2001, and the massive roll-out of its signature connectivity strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), since 2013. The presence of Chinese citizens and economic assets in Africa has grown substantially due to China's expanding trade with, and China-funded infrastructure projects in, African countries. Many of those countries are plagued by intrastate armed conflicts, jihadist terrorism or maritime piracy off their coasts. The rising number of violent attacks against Chinese workers, calls from the domestic Chinese audience for action, and surging economic loss are some of the factors that have compelled the Chinese government to react. China has shifted from uncompromising non-involvement to selective and incremental engagement in bilateral, regional and international cooperation on peace and security by nuancing, on a case-by-case basis, the narrow boundaries of its normative foreign policy framework, including the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries, that had made a previously inward-looking China for decades a free-rider on global security, provided by the US in particular. As in other fields, China has pursued a two-pronged approach to African security issues, to defend its economic and security interests and to expand its influence in Africa. On the one hand, it has contributed to existing multilateral structures and instruments to foster peace and security. It has participated in UN-led peacekeeping missions to Africa and in the UN-mandated counter-piracy action off the Horn of Africa. Both have provided the pretext for China to accelerate its massive blue-water navy build up, to be present in the Indian Ocean and beyond and to set up its first overseas military base, in Djibouti. On the other hand, it has expanded its military presence by engaging African countries bilaterally through joint drills, military training, and military infrastructure-building and multilaterally through the newly created China-Africa fora on security issues. Against this backdrop it remains to be seen how complementary or competitive the future EU-China security cooperation, which so far has remained in its infancy, will be in seeking 'African solutions to African problems'.

International Agreements in Progress: The trade pillar of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement

30-08-2019

On 28 June 2019, the European Union (EU) and the four founding members of Mercosur (the 'Southern Common Market') – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – reached an 'agreement in principle' on a free trade agreement (FTA) as part of a wider association agreement (AA). However, spurred by massive destruction of the Brazilian Amazon through large-scale forest fires, EU policy-makers and international environmental groups alike have since become increasingly vocal in expressing concerns about the ...

On 28 June 2019, the European Union (EU) and the four founding members of Mercosur (the 'Southern Common Market') – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – reached an 'agreement in principle' on a free trade agreement (FTA) as part of a wider association agreement (AA). However, spurred by massive destruction of the Brazilian Amazon through large-scale forest fires, EU policy-makers and international environmental groups alike have since become increasingly vocal in expressing concerns about the deal's potential environmental and climate change implications. EU farmers' associations with defensive interests have fiercely criticised what they have referred to as a 'cars for cows' deal. On the other hand, the deal has been warmly welcomed by EU industry associations and several sub-sectors of EU agriculture with offensive interests. If tariff and non-tariff barriers are eliminated or substantially lowered, the potential for growth in bi-regional trade in goods, services and investment is significant. In addition, the FTA would be a strong signal in favour of the rules-based multilateral trading system and against power politics in trade. After the agreement's legal review and translation, it will be presented to the Council for signature. It will then be submitted to the European Parliament for consent. Once the Council has adopted the decision concluding the agreement, it will be presented to EU Member State parliaments for ratification. First edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification.

EU framework for FDI screening

17-04-2019

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 was a response to a rapidly evolving and increasingly complex investment landscape. It aimed 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 ...

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 was a response to a rapidly evolving and increasingly complex investment landscape. It aimed 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 had cast doubt on the effectiveness of the decentralised and fragmented system of FDI screening – in use in only some EU Member States – to adequately address the potential (cross-border) impact of FDI inflows on security or public order without EU coordinated cooperation among all EU Member States. The proposal's objective was neither to harmonise the formal FDI screening mechanisms then used by almost half of the Member States, nor to replace them with a single EU mechanism. Instead, it aimed to enhance cooperation and information-sharing on FDI screening between the Commission and Member States, and to increase legal certainty and transparency. The European Parliament's Committee on International Trade (INTA) and the Council adopted their positions in May and June 2018 respectively, and interinstitutional negotiations concluded in November 2018 with a provisional text. That was first endorsed by the Member States' Permanent Representatives (Coreper) and by INTA in December 2018. After the text's adoption by the European Parliament and the Council in February and March 2019 respectively, it entered into force on 10 April 2019, and will apply from 11 October 2020, 18 months later. 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.

5G in the EU and Chinese telecoms suppliers

08-04-2019

The spectrum auctions of fifth-generation (5G) mobile telecoms networks planned in 17 EU Member States for 2019 or 2020 have sparked a highly politicised debate in the EU about whether the use of Chinese 5G equipment in critical EU infrastructure poses a threat to security. While Australia, Japan, and New Zealand have followed the United States (US) in imposing a (partial) ban on Chinese telecom vendors, EU Member States appear to privilege EU-coordinated national risk-mitigating measures over a ...

The spectrum auctions of fifth-generation (5G) mobile telecoms networks planned in 17 EU Member States for 2019 or 2020 have sparked a highly politicised debate in the EU about whether the use of Chinese 5G equipment in critical EU infrastructure poses a threat to security. While Australia, Japan, and New Zealand have followed the United States (US) in imposing a (partial) ban on Chinese telecom vendors, EU Member States appear to privilege EU-coordinated national risk-mitigating measures over a ban.

Towards a new EU policy approach to China: 21st EU-China Summit – April 2019

08-04-2019

With the European Parliament elections set for May 2019, the 21st EU-China Summit has been advanced, to be held in Brussels on 9 April 2019, only nine months after the previous one. The 2018 summit's joint statement captured a broad range of deliverables that had been achieved over a three-year period, since the EU and China had failed to agree on joint statements in 2016 and 2017. Considering that not even the short-term commitments on the trade and investment agenda from 2018 have been met, that ...

With the European Parliament elections set for May 2019, the 21st EU-China Summit has been advanced, to be held in Brussels on 9 April 2019, only nine months after the previous one. The 2018 summit's joint statement captured a broad range of deliverables that had been achieved over a three-year period, since the EU and China had failed to agree on joint statements in 2016 and 2017. Considering that not even the short-term commitments on the trade and investment agenda from 2018 have been met, that the context of US-China great power competition looms large and that the EU has adopted more assertive language in its recently issued EU-China strategic outlook, it remains to be seen whether meaningful outcomes will be reached at this year's summit.

Taiwan's political survival in a challenging geopolitical context

26-03-2019

Since the landmark victory of Tsai Ing-wen from Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2016 presidential elections, mainland China has intensified the island's international isolation and intimidation through political pressure, economic coercion and military drills. In a January 2019 speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1979 'Message to Compatriots in Taiwan', China's President, Xi Jinping, alluded to the inevitability of unification based on a 'one country ...

Since the landmark victory of Tsai Ing-wen from Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2016 presidential elections, mainland China has intensified the island's international isolation and intimidation through political pressure, economic coercion and military drills. In a January 2019 speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1979 'Message to Compatriots in Taiwan', China's President, Xi Jinping, alluded to the inevitability of unification based on a 'one country, two systems' formula, which is widely rejected in Taiwan. Taiwan's successful transition from an authoritarian anti-communist bulwark led by the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), to a liberal multi-party democracy that embraces individual political freedoms, the rule of law and universal human rights, is a challenge for the authoritarian one-party system of the People's Republic of China (PRC), as it belies mainland China's rhetoric that a liberal multi-party democracy is unsuitable for Chinese people. Taiwan's political survival within the fragile status quo of cross-strait relations ultimately depends on the United States' continued national interest in ensuring that Taiwan's defence capabilities and the US's military supremacy over the PRC act as a deterrent against a potential invasion of Taiwan by mainland China's military forces. Against the backdrop of the PRC's increasingly aggressive Taiwan policy and growing US-China strategic competition on multiple fronts, the US has expanded its long-standing commitments in support of Taiwan's defence and democracy, and considers the island as a partner in promoting the goals and values of the US's free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. The EU maintains a 'One China' policy, which recognises the PRC government as the sole legal government of China. However, since the EU and Taiwan are like-minded in many regards and the EU respects Taiwan's governance system, it is interested in closer cooperation with Taiwan on non-political issues, even in the absence of diplomatic recognition.

EU framework for FDI screening

06-02-2019

In 2017, the European Commission submitted a proposal for the creation of an EU enabling framework for the screening of foreign direct investment (FDI), with which it aimed 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. The Parliament and Council have reached agreement on the proposal, which is scheduled to be voted by Parliament at first reading during the February plenary session.

In 2017, the European Commission submitted a proposal for the creation of an EU enabling framework for the screening of foreign direct investment (FDI), with which it aimed 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. The Parliament and Council have reached agreement on the proposal, which is scheduled to be voted by Parliament at first reading during the February plenary session.

State of play of EU-China relations

21-01-2019

EU-China relations are increasingly affected by growing Sino-United States strategic competition. The Trump Administration considers China a strategic competitor to confront, rather than a country with which to engage. The EU, on the contrary, refers to China as a strategic partner and, despite persistent and considerable differences in position in some areas, continues to engage. The United States’ current preference for bi and unilateralism, and withdrawal from multilateral arrangements, which ...

EU-China relations are increasingly affected by growing Sino-United States strategic competition. The Trump Administration considers China a strategic competitor to confront, rather than a country with which to engage. The EU, on the contrary, refers to China as a strategic partner and, despite persistent and considerable differences in position in some areas, continues to engage. The United States’ current preference for bi and unilateralism, and withdrawal from multilateral arrangements, which the EU considers vital elements of a rules-based international order, create openings for China to fill the gap. For the EU, this implies the need to seek issue-based alliances and to strengthen strategic cooperation with China on issues of common interest to reach and uphold multilateral solutions to global and regional challenges. Since 2013, the 2003 EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership has been broadened and deepened in line with the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. This has led to a high degree of institutionalisation of EU-China ties, with an ever-growing number of dialogue formats that cover political, economic and people-to-people relations, but whose tangible results vary significantly. Notwithstanding the frequency of political exchanges and successful cooperation on key global challenges, such as the nuclear deal with Iran and climate change, the economic pillar has remained the core of the relationship. As China is rapidly climbing the value-added ladder, trade is an area of cooperation where complementarity is shifting fast towards competition. Friction is unavoidable as two fundamentally different economic systems interact, and each side has its own understanding of what 'free' trade, 'fair' trade, 'reciprocity' and a 'level playing field' means. Given the wide diversity of EU Member States' interests and perceptions, which third countries may easily exploit for their own gains, the EU has struggled to come forward with a unified response to China-led initiatives. The European Parliament resolution on the state of play of EU-China relations adopted in September 2018 includes a critical assessment of China's foreign and domestic policies, including human rights, as well as of progress on the implementation of the EU-China strategic partnership.

Argentina: Economic indicators and trade with EU

07-12-2018

In 2017, Argentina’s economy continued its gradual recovery from major macroeconomic imbalances with a GDP per capita growth rate of 2.9% thanks to austerity measures and a comprehensive reform agenda. However, inflation at 25.7% and unemployment at 8.5% remained high. Whereas economic fundamentals were slowly improving and the country’s political context remained stable after president Mauricio Macri made political gains at the mid-term legislative elections in October 2017, a crisis of confidence ...

In 2017, Argentina’s economy continued its gradual recovery from major macroeconomic imbalances with a GDP per capita growth rate of 2.9% thanks to austerity measures and a comprehensive reform agenda. However, inflation at 25.7% and unemployment at 8.5% remained high. Whereas economic fundamentals were slowly improving and the country’s political context remained stable after president Mauricio Macri made political gains at the mid-term legislative elections in October 2017, a crisis of confidence hit the economy in spring 2018. The crisis exposed vulnerabilities resulting from Argentina’s fiscal and current account deficit and large foreign-denominated debt. As the peso continued its downward trend in autumn 2018, although Argentina secured an IMF US$50 billion credit line and committed to new austerity measures, the economic context is likely to harden ahead of the 2019 presidential elections. With a share of 16.2% of Argentina’s overall trade, the EU is the country’s second largest trading partner after Brazil that accounts for 21.9%. In 2017, EU exports to Argentina increased to almost €10 billion, while EU imports slightly decreased to more than €8 billion. Total imports of primary products from Argentina declined and those of manufactures, notably chemicals, grew. EU exports of both primary products and manufactures, particularly machinery and appliances as well as transport equipment, increased.

International Agreements in Progress: Modernisation of the trade pillar of the EU-Chile Association Agreement

15-11-2018

In November 2017, the EU and Chile launched negotiations on a modernised trade pillar of the 2002 EU-Chile Association Agreement, based on a Council negotiating mandate which is the first-ever to have been published prior to the start of negotiations with a view to enhancing transparency and inclusiveness. After having operated smoothly for 15 years and led to a significant expansion of bilateral trade in goods and services and investment, the trade pillar needs to be broadened and deepened in order ...

In November 2017, the EU and Chile launched negotiations on a modernised trade pillar of the 2002 EU-Chile Association Agreement, based on a Council negotiating mandate which is the first-ever to have been published prior to the start of negotiations with a view to enhancing transparency and inclusiveness. After having operated smoothly for 15 years and led to a significant expansion of bilateral trade in goods and services and investment, the trade pillar needs to be broadened and deepened in order to unlock untapped potential, break new ground and keep pace with new trade and investment patterns in a global competitive environment that has fundamentally changed with the growing global footprint of countries like China. Against the backdrop of rising protectionist trends, the EU and Chile – two like-minded partners – seek to reassert their commitment to keeping their economies open to trade and investment. Both intend to shape, pioneer and promote state-of-the-art trade(-related) and investment rules of the 21st century, including on trade and sustainable development (TSD), trade and gender equality, and the fight against corruption. Given the large convergence of the EU's and Chile's interests and level of ambition, the negotiations are expected to make rapid progress.

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