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International Agreements in Progress - EU–China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Levelling the playing field with China

11-09-2020

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play. The CAI negotiations are aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties ...

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play. The CAI negotiations are aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties (BITs) China and EU Member States concluded prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 when the EU gained competence for most investment issues. The CAI is intended to go far beyond traditional investment protection to also cover market access, investment-related sustainable development, and level playing field issues, such as transparency of subsidies, and rules on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and forced technology transfer. Although leaders at the 2019 EU-China Summit jointly committed to concluding the CAI talks in 2020, lack of engagement at the highest political level on the Chinese side has raised doubts as to whether a breakthrough can be reached in time, with China more focused on navigating the uncertainties of its relations with the United States from January 2021. First edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification.

Road and rail transport and coronavirus: Mapping the way out of the crisis

27-07-2020

In the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis, the lockdown and border closures halted most passenger services in road and rail transport and left road hauliers to face uncertainty and very long waiting times at many border crossings. With the pandemic easing, some passenger services resumed in certain EU countries from late April onward, and with the introduction of 'green lanes' the situation at border crossings stabilised allowing smoother passage for road hauliers. Nonetheless, the initial estimates ...

In the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis, the lockdown and border closures halted most passenger services in road and rail transport and left road hauliers to face uncertainty and very long waiting times at many border crossings. With the pandemic easing, some passenger services resumed in certain EU countries from late April onward, and with the introduction of 'green lanes' the situation at border crossings stabilised allowing smoother passage for road hauliers. Nonetheless, the initial estimates of the costs to the transport sector are immense and the impact is expected to continue well beyond 2020. The EU took a number of steps in the early stages of the crisis to alleviate the situation and to provide relief to the transport sector. As the situation progressed, the European Commission introduced further measures to help coordinate the exit from confinement and safely restart transport services. The Commission has also tabled a European recovery plan with a number of new instruments, which will allow the provision of assistance to key sectors, including the transport sector. The European Council reached a political agreement on the recovery fund on 21 July. To support their economies, EU governments have introduced a number of economy-wide measures, but also sector-specific measures, including for transport and tourism, as well as support for individual transport companies. The Commission has further enabled governments to use State aid to help firms in difficulty by putting in place a temporary framework for State aid.

State aid and the pandemic: How State aid can back coronavirus economic support measures

08-06-2020

The coronavirus pandemic and its financial and economic consequences have caused a major economic downturn, and the European Union (EU) has moved rapidly to respond with monetary and fiscal policy measures. The fiscal policy instruments deployed include the adaptation of State aid rules to the exceptional circumstances to allow Member States to support their economies by means of direct or indirect intervention. From a competition law point of view, measures that constitute State aid are in principle ...

The coronavirus pandemic and its financial and economic consequences have caused a major economic downturn, and the European Union (EU) has moved rapidly to respond with monetary and fiscal policy measures. The fiscal policy instruments deployed include the adaptation of State aid rules to the exceptional circumstances to allow Member States to support their economies by means of direct or indirect intervention. From a competition law point of view, measures that constitute State aid are in principle illegal, unless issued under an exemption, such as the De minimis Regulation or the General Block Exemption Regulation, subject to notification and European Commission approval. The State aid rules do, however, already allow for aid to compensate for damage caused by natural disasters and exceptional events, such as a pandemic. State aid can also be used to remedy serious disturbances to the economy. The temporary framework adopted by the Commission in March 2020 sets out temporary State aid measures that the Commission will consider compatible with the State aid rules, allowing Member States full flexibility in supporting their coronavirus-stricken economies. The temporary framework is in place to address Member States' various needs more effectively. The framework initially focused on measures to ensure liquidity. Since early April, it has been widened to include measures to support the economy and coronavirus-related medical investment, research and production, as well as measures to ease the social and tax liabilities of companies and the self-employed and measures to subsidise workers' wages. This is an update of a briefing published on 27 April 2020.

Three critical issues in EU-UK relations

08-06-2020

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020, the EU and the UK launched negotiations on a new partnership agreement, to come into effect at the end of the transition period, scheduled for 31 December 2020. The negotiations are intended to address nearly all the domains covered in the Political Declaration negotiated by both parties alongside the Withdrawal Agreement, including trade and economics, fisheries, thematic cooperation, and internal ...

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020, the EU and the UK launched negotiations on a new partnership agreement, to come into effect at the end of the transition period, scheduled for 31 December 2020. The negotiations are intended to address nearly all the domains covered in the Political Declaration negotiated by both parties alongside the Withdrawal Agreement, including trade and economics, fisheries, thematic cooperation, and internal and external security. As far as negotiations on the future economic relationship are concerned, while the parties agree in principle on an exceptional zero-tariff and zero-quota comprehensive and balanced free trade agreement (FTA) aiming for as 'frictionless' trade as possible, they still disagree on major aspects of the economic partnership, especially fisheries and level playing-field (LPF) commitments. The EU wants the future agreement in the fisheries domain to retain the status quo as far as possible, including reciprocal access to waters in return for access to markets and quota-shares that are based on historical fishing patterns. The EU also insists that an effective LPF would ensure fair competition. After the third round of talks, which took place in May 2020, the UK's chief negotiator, David Frost, said that the EU proposal on fisheries was ‘simply not realistic’, and it was unacceptable that the LPF binds the UK to EU law or standards; if need be, the UK would aim for a less ambitious FTA. The EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said that negotiating an FTA providing for tariffs would be far more time-consuming, and the EU would still demand the same LPF commitments because 'open and fair competition is not a "nice-to-have", it is a "must-have" '. Following the fourth round of negotiations, from 2 to 5 June, the positions therefore still seemed irreconcilable. However, the long stand-off in the earlier negotiations on UK withdrawal had seemed equally irreconcilable before the final agreement was reached and then ratified. One area in which the two sides did manage to agree in those negotiations is the financial settlement included in the Withdrawal Agreement. While that settlement is now being implemented, it had initially been seen as one of the more difficult areas of the withdrawal negotiations.

Banking Union: Corona crisis effects - week 20

15-05-2020

The corona crisis has significant effects on many banks in the Banking Union. To support the Members of the Banking Union Working Group, the following briefing reports on observations made and actions taken by supervisory authorities, credit rating agencies, banking federations, or other industry experts, in order to point to relevant developments in the banking sector. The briefing will be updated on a bi-weekly basis, unless relevant developments require otherwise.

The corona crisis has significant effects on many banks in the Banking Union. To support the Members of the Banking Union Working Group, the following briefing reports on observations made and actions taken by supervisory authorities, credit rating agencies, banking federations, or other industry experts, in order to point to relevant developments in the banking sector. The briefing will be updated on a bi-weekly basis, unless relevant developments require otherwise.

Coronavirus and the European film industry

30-04-2020

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused the shutdown of some 70 000 cinemas in China, nearly 2 500 in the US and over 9 000 in the EU, the joy sparked by the success of the film industry in 2019 has quickly given way to anxiety. Shootings, premieres, spring festivals and entertainment events have faced near-total cancellation or postponement due to the pandemic, thus inflicting an estimated loss of US$5 billion on the global box office; this amount could skyrocket to between ...

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused the shutdown of some 70 000 cinemas in China, nearly 2 500 in the US and over 9 000 in the EU, the joy sparked by the success of the film industry in 2019 has quickly given way to anxiety. Shootings, premieres, spring festivals and entertainment events have faced near-total cancellation or postponement due to the pandemic, thus inflicting an estimated loss of US$5 billion on the global box office; this amount could skyrocket to between US$15 billion and US$17 billion, if cinemas do not reopen by the end of May 2020. The EU film sector is essentially made up of small companies employing creative and technical freelancers, which makes it particularly vulnerable to the pandemic. The domino effect of the lockdown has triggered the immediate freeze of hundreds of projects in the shooting phase, disrupted cash flows and pushed production companies to the brink of bankruptcy. To limit and/or mitigate the economic damage caused by coronavirus, governments and national film and audiovisual funds across the EU have been quick in setting up both general blanket measures (such as solidarity funds and short-term unemployment schemes) and/or specific industry-related funds and grants (helping arthouse cinema and providing financial relief to producers and distributors). For its part, the EU has acted promptly to limit the spread of the virus and help EU countries to withstand its social and economic impact. In addition to the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) and the CRII+, both approved by the European Parliament and the Council in record time, the Commission has set up a Temporary Framework allowing EU countries to derogate from State aid rules, and proposed a European instrument for temporary support (SURE) to help protect jobs and workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In the meantime, various film festivals have gone digital and a number of streaming companies have started offering free options to all those confined to their homes by the lockdown. Similarly, major studios are also releasing films to home video earlier than what has been the norm thus far. It remains unclear as to how long it will take before audiences go back to cinemas and what unexpected consequences the various mitigation measures in place could have.

Outcome of the video-conference call of EU Heads of State or Government on10 March 2020

13-03-2020

Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and the potential EU-wide ramifications, Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States welcomed the initiative to hold a special meeting by video-conference on 10 March 2020. European Council President Charles Michel expressed his sympathy for all those citizens affected by the disease and, in particular, for Italy, the country most affected so far. The Member States discussed the COVID-19 outbreak and agreed on four ...

Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and the potential EU-wide ramifications, Heads of State or Government of the 27 EU Member States welcomed the initiative to hold a special meeting by video-conference on 10 March 2020. European Council President Charles Michel expressed his sympathy for all those citizens affected by the disease and, in particular, for Italy, the country most affected so far. The Member States discussed the COVID-19 outbreak and agreed on four lines of action to contain the spread of the disease. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, the President of the Eurogroup, Mario Centeno, and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, also took part in the discussion.

Annual report on EU competition policy

04-03-2020

During the March I plenary part-session, the European Parliament is expected to discuss the annual report on EU competition policy (2019), adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The report highlights the growing importance of the international dimension of competition policy in a globalised world and the challenges stemming from the digitalisation of the economy. It also points to issues related to the effectiveness of competition policy instruments, as well as how they may support ...

During the March I plenary part-session, the European Parliament is expected to discuss the annual report on EU competition policy (2019), adopted by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. The report highlights the growing importance of the international dimension of competition policy in a globalised world and the challenges stemming from the digitalisation of the economy. It also points to issues related to the effectiveness of competition policy instruments, as well as how they may support the European Green Deal.

Public economic support in the EU: State aid and special economic zones

06-02-2020

State aid can be defined as an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. State aid can take several forms, such as public subsidies, tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. While the European Union (EU) competition rules consider State aid to be incompatible with the internal market, they allow such aid when it promotes general economic development, for example, when tackling the challenges ...

State aid can be defined as an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. State aid can take several forms, such as public subsidies, tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. While the European Union (EU) competition rules consider State aid to be incompatible with the internal market, they allow such aid when it promotes general economic development, for example, when tackling the challenges of global competition, the ongoing financial crisis, the digital revolution, and demographic change. To this end, all EU Member States provide some public economic support, for instance, to the coal mining sector, banks, or the digital economy. To contribute to regional development and to increase competitiveness, some Member States have created special economic zones (SEZs), which offer an attractive combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures, less laws, provision of infrastructure, and creation of business clusters. The European Commission is currently evaluating the State aid modernisation (SAM) package and some of its related laws, as these will expire by the end of 2020. The European Parliament takes a two fold stance towards public economic support in the EU. On the one hand, Parliament stresses that State aid should support ecological transformation and foster the development of services, knowledge, and infrastructure rather than providing support to specific companies. On the other hand, it calls on the Commission to ensure that State aid is reduced in the long term, given its distortive effects on the internal market. While the temporary State aid offered to the financial sector to stabilise the EU financial system might have been necessary, Parliament calls on the Commission to scrutinise and eventually remove this aid. Parliament, inter alia, also calls on the Member States to abandon unfair competition practices based on unjustified tax incentives and to adopt appropriate rules in the Council.

EU competition policy: Key to a fair single market

30-10-2019

Competition policy has been found to make a positive contribution to the EU's economic growth and the EU has one of the most robust competition policy systems in the world. European competition policy encompasses many fields, not least antitrust measures, merger control and State aid. It is enforced by the European Commission, whose decisions can be contested in the Court of Justice of the European Union. Recent policy developments include the antitrust damages system and the framework empowering ...

Competition policy has been found to make a positive contribution to the EU's economic growth and the EU has one of the most robust competition policy systems in the world. European competition policy encompasses many fields, not least antitrust measures, merger control and State aid. It is enforced by the European Commission, whose decisions can be contested in the Court of Justice of the European Union. Recent policy developments include the antitrust damages system and the framework empowering national competition authorities. Topics discussed in this paper include the role of competition policy in the digital era, merger control, instruments such as the leniency programme, commitments and settlements, and the potential impact of current political developments.

Chystané akce

20-01-2021
EPRS online policy roundtable with the World Bank: Where next for the global economy
Další akce -
EPRS
25-01-2021
Public Hearing on "Gender aspects of precarious work"
Slyšení -
FEMM
26-01-2021
Public hearing on Co-management of EU fisheries at local level
Slyšení -
PECH

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