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Strategic Compass: Towards adoption

26-11-2021

On 15 November 2021, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP) Josep Borrell presented the draft European Union (EU) 'Strategic Compass'. Amidst geopolitical competition, rising threats, accelerated technological development, climate crisis and global instability, the compass aims to facilitate a 'common sense of purpose' in Union security and defence, strengthen action, deepen partnerships, and stimulate innovation. On 30 November ...

On 15 November 2021, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP) Josep Borrell presented the draft European Union (EU) 'Strategic Compass'. Amidst geopolitical competition, rising threats, accelerated technological development, climate crisis and global instability, the compass aims to facilitate a 'common sense of purpose' in Union security and defence, strengthen action, deepen partnerships, and stimulate innovation. On 30 November 2021, Parliament's Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) will hold an exchange of views on the state of play of the Strategic Compass.

EU-Belarus relations: State of play - Human rights situation

23-11-2021

Over the summer and autumn of 2021, in what is increasingly viewed as a hybrid warfare tactic aimed at destabilising Europe, Aliaksandr Lukashenka's Belarussian regime has instrumentalised migrants, manipulating the organisation of flights from the Middle East to Minsk and deliberately orchestrating migrants' onward travel to the EU-Belarus border. With weather conditions endangering migrants' lives, the situation has also led to serious humanitarian consequences. This activity – which many argue ...

Over the summer and autumn of 2021, in what is increasingly viewed as a hybrid warfare tactic aimed at destabilising Europe, Aliaksandr Lukashenka's Belarussian regime has instrumentalised migrants, manipulating the organisation of flights from the Middle East to Minsk and deliberately orchestrating migrants' onward travel to the EU-Belarus border. With weather conditions endangering migrants' lives, the situation has also led to serious humanitarian consequences. This activity – which many argue also aims at distracting attention from the worsening situation of freedom in the country, with attacks against independent society, journalists and electronic media users – is only the latest in a string of events underlining deteriorating EU relations with Belarus. The Lukashenka regime has been isolated since the falsified presidential elections of August 2020, and the brutal crackdown against peacefully protesting Belarusians. Instead of embracing dialogue with the democratic opposition and wider Belarusian society, Lukashenka chose another path, involving continued brutal repression of the country's citizens. The worsening human rights situation and hijacking of Ryanair flight FR 4978, in June 2021, provoked a response from the EU. This includes a ban on Belarusian air carriers landing in or overflying the EU, a major extension of the list of people and entities already subject to sanctions, and the introduction of sanctions on key sectors of the Belarusian economy. The European Parliament plays an active part in shaping this EU response. Parliament does not recognise Lukashenka's presidency and has spoken out on human rights abuses in Belarus. Awarded Parliament's 2020 Sakharov Prize, the Belarusian democratic opposition is frequently invited to speak for the Belarusian people in the European Parliament. Following the recent developments, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will make a formal address to the European Parliament in plenary session, on 24 November 2021. This Briefing updates a previous edition, published in July 2021.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): The EU's strategic partner in Asia

23-11-2021

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve ...

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve the same level of integration as the EU, it has also enabled ASEAN to accommodate huge disparities among its 10 member states. In 2003, south-east Asian leaders decided to take cooperation to another level by setting up an ASEAN Community. To this end, they adopted a charter in 2007, though without fundamentally changing the nature of the organisation's decision-making or giving it stronger institutions. The community has three pillars: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural. ASEAN's impact has been uneven. The organisation is an effective platform for cooperation between its member states and the wider Indo-Pacific region, but its goal of promoting peaceful cooperation is undermined by growing geopolitical tensions, especially in the South China Sea. There has been significant economic integration, even if the goal of an EU-style single market is a long way off. On the other hand, south-east Asians still perceive ASEAN as an elite project with little impact on their daily lives. EU-ASEAN relations span four decades and have steadily deepened, building on common values as well as booming trade and investment. In 2020, the two sides upgraded to a strategic partnership. This Briefing updates a previous one, published in November 2020.

Sustainability provisions in EU free trade agreements: Review of the European Commission action plan

19-11-2021

Sustainability-related provisions are a key part of international trade negotiations. Since the free trade agreement (FTA) signed with South Korea in 2009, EU trade deals each include dedicated trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapters encompassing issues such as environment, labour rights, climate change and responsible business conduct. In an effort to step up implementation and enforcement of these chapters, in 2018 the Commission published a non-paper setting out a 15-point action plan ...

Sustainability-related provisions are a key part of international trade negotiations. Since the free trade agreement (FTA) signed with South Korea in 2009, EU trade deals each include dedicated trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapters encompassing issues such as environment, labour rights, climate change and responsible business conduct. In an effort to step up implementation and enforcement of these chapters, in 2018 the Commission published a non-paper setting out a 15-point action plan. In the new trade strategy, the 2021 Trade Policy Review, the Commission signalled the early launch of a review of the action plan and held an exchange of views with the European Parliament in July 2021. Parliament has long been an advocate for stronger enforcement and implementation of TSD commitments. In the three years since the action plan's launch, the Commission – in cooperation with Member States, EU institutions, stakeholders and international organisations – has advanced on many of the proposed actions. For instance, EU funding was mobilised to support civil society engagement and responsible business conduct. Assertive enforcement of TSD commitments materialised in the form of a concluded dispute with South Korea on labour issues. The establishment of the EU chief trade enforcement officer has strengthened the Commission's enforcement capabilities. Provisions on climate change, including a reference to the Paris Agreement, and widened labour provisions are all part of recent trade negotiations. However, the action suggesting extending the scope of civil society input beyond the TSD chapters to trade agreements as a whole has so far mainly only been reflected in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU und the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the objective of early ratification of the fundamental International Labour Organization conventions continues to be challenging with many partner countries.

Kyrgyz political landscape ahead of elections

18-11-2021

Kyrgyzstan is the most democratic but also the least stable of the former Soviet Central Asian republics. The most recent upheaval resulted in the cancellation of the October 2020 parliamentary elections. New elections scheduled for November 2021 are likely to consolidate the position of Sadyr Japarov, the country's new president. A controversial new constitution raises concerns over the future of Kyrgyz democracy.

Kyrgyzstan is the most democratic but also the least stable of the former Soviet Central Asian republics. The most recent upheaval resulted in the cancellation of the October 2020 parliamentary elections. New elections scheduled for November 2021 are likely to consolidate the position of Sadyr Japarov, the country's new president. A controversial new constitution raises concerns over the future of Kyrgyz democracy.

New political dialogue and 2021 elections in Venezuela

17-11-2021

The Mexico dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition, as well as the latter's decision to run in the 21 November 2021 local and regional elections, have revived hopes for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the country's political conflict. Nevertheless, the Maduro government has suspended the third round of negotiations, dimming prospects for a successful outcome of the dialogue. The EU is observing the elections.

The Mexico dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition, as well as the latter's decision to run in the 21 November 2021 local and regional elections, have revived hopes for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the country's political conflict. Nevertheless, the Maduro government has suspended the third round of negotiations, dimming prospects for a successful outcome of the dialogue. The EU is observing the elections.

Global human rights sanctions - Mapping Magnitsky laws: The US, Canadian, UK and EU approach

16-11-2021

Human rights sanctions are nothing new, but the death in 2009 of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky in detention resulted in calls for more vigorous action to counter continuing abuses in many countries. Adopted by the US in 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act was the first of a new generation of human rights sanctions programmes, which, in contrast to traditional sanctions targeted at individual countries, can be flexibly applied to perpetrators from all over the world, regardless of their geographical ...

Human rights sanctions are nothing new, but the death in 2009 of Russian whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky in detention resulted in calls for more vigorous action to counter continuing abuses in many countries. Adopted by the US in 2016, the Global Magnitsky Act was the first of a new generation of human rights sanctions programmes, which, in contrast to traditional sanctions targeted at individual countries, can be flexibly applied to perpetrators from all over the world, regardless of their geographical location. This briefing compares four such programmes: the US Global Magnitsky Act, Canada's Sergei Magnitsky Law, the UK's Global Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Regulations, and the EU's restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses, the most recent of the four to be adopted. All of these are inspired by the ambition to tackle serious human rights crimes from around the world, but there are also significant differences, for example, in terms of the threshold for human rights offences, the inclusion or not of corruption-related offences, and the role played by parliaments and civil society. In terms of practical application, Global Magnitsky is by far the most active of the four programmes for the time being, targeting over 300 individuals and entities from 40 countries. Traditional geographical sanctions still predominate in all four jurisdictions; nevertheless, restrictive measures applied under global programmes to Chinese, Russian and Saudi officials highlight the role that such sanctions can play in furthering Western cooperation on human rights. This briefing has been written as part of a collaborative project between the European Parliament's Research Service and Directorate-General for External Policies on mapping best practices in global human rights sanctions regimes.

The level playing-field for labour and environment in EU-UK relations

15-11-2021

The level playing-field (LPF) provisions of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) constitute a key part of the agreement, and are the product of some of the more challenging issues in the negotiations. The LPF provisions seek to safeguard fair competition between the parties. A notable component are the rules on social provisions, labour, environment and climate change, often referred to as the 'trade and sustainable development' (TSD ...

The level playing-field (LPF) provisions of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) constitute a key part of the agreement, and are the product of some of the more challenging issues in the negotiations. The LPF provisions seek to safeguard fair competition between the parties. A notable component are the rules on social provisions, labour, environment and climate change, often referred to as the 'trade and sustainable development' (TSD) chapters in other free trade agreements. The trading relationship between the EU and the UK is fundamentally different from that between the EU and other countries. Indeed, not only was the UK a Member State of the EU until 31 January 2021 and (almost all) EU laws applied to the UK until the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, but the two economies are also close and strongly-interconnected neighbours. The TCA was therefore designed to ensure that a LPF continues post-Brexit. This could be achieved by maintaining levels of protection at the end of the transition period, as well as by either avoiding significant divergences in the future or by taking appropriate (rebalancing) measures. To this end, the TCA requires that parties do not weaken or reduce their levels of social, labour and environmental protection below those in place at the end of 2020 (non-regression). Existing commitments and ambitions on climate change, in particular on climate neutrality by 2050, remain in place for both parties. In addition, the TCA introduces a mechanism whereby a party can take appropriate rebalancing measures to offset any (adverse) 'material impacts on trade or investment' arising from 'significant divergences' between parties. It also allows either party to request a review with a view to amending the agreement, and either party can opt to terminate the trade chapters if the envisaged amendment is not satisfactory. The TCA LPF provisions on labour and environment, in view of the LPF focus, strengthen the enforcement of non-regression provisions by allowing for remedial measures in the event of non-compliance, and also reinforce the precautionary approach. The TCA also represents a notable innovation with its rebalancing and review provisions. This Briefing updates an earlier one, published in April 2021.

The 2021 G20 Summit: Bridging global rifts for a greener and more sustainable future

27-10-2021

The 2021 G20 Summit, to be held in Rome on 30 and 31 October, was expected to bring together the major economies' leaders in a physical meeting for the first time since the pandemic began. However, several leaders (of Russia, Japan, Mexico and China) have announced that they will not attend in person, limiting opportunities to hold informal bilateral meetings in the margins of the summit. Important decisions designed to put the global economy and society on course towards a greener and more sustainable ...

The 2021 G20 Summit, to be held in Rome on 30 and 31 October, was expected to bring together the major economies' leaders in a physical meeting for the first time since the pandemic began. However, several leaders (of Russia, Japan, Mexico and China) have announced that they will not attend in person, limiting opportunities to hold informal bilateral meetings in the margins of the summit. Important decisions designed to put the global economy and society on course towards a greener and more sustainable future have already been sketched out at ministerial level meetings. These now need to be endorsed by the heads of state or government. With its informal nature, the G20 is a vital global platform, bringing together the leaders of all the major developed and emerging economies, regardless of their political systems. In a global context characterised by growing rifts between the major geopolitical powers, the US and China in particular, the 2021 summit will be an opportunity to show how committed countries still are to multilateral rules and cooperation, but also how much trust remains to sustain the G20's customary voluntary commitments. The leaders at the summit are expected to reaffirm their commitments to boosting economic recovery, while mainstreaming green and digital objectives. They may also discuss more ambitious climate objectives than their ministers have managed to agree. The summit should take the final decision on the historic reform of global taxation, agreeing on a global minimum tax rate for firms operating multinationally. Vaccine equity and other health challenges relating to the pandemic will also figure on the agenda. For the EU, the summit is an opportunity to reaffirm its unabatedly strong support for multilateralism. The European Parliament has expressed support for the tax reform debated at G20/OECD level.

Outcome of the European Council meeting of 21-22 October 2021

25-10-2021

The regular European Council meeting of 21-22 October 2021 dedicated significant time to discussing the rule of law and the rise in energy prices – which have become particularly salient topics at national and European level – as well as to migration. On the rule of law, EU leaders had a political discussion, underlining the importance of the rule of law for the EU, but did not adopt concrete conclusions. Regarding the recent spike in energy prices, they agreed on pursuing short-term, tailored and ...

The regular European Council meeting of 21-22 October 2021 dedicated significant time to discussing the rule of law and the rise in energy prices – which have become particularly salient topics at national and European level – as well as to migration. On the rule of law, EU leaders had a political discussion, underlining the importance of the rule of law for the EU, but did not adopt concrete conclusions. Regarding the recent spike in energy prices, they agreed on pursuing short-term, tailored and targeted national measures, and will continue to look for a consensus on long-term measures at the next European Council meeting. Leaders also took stock of the coronavirus pandemic, reviewed progress on the digital agenda and related key legislative files, and held a strategic debate on trade.

Upcoming events

29-11-2021
The Mutual Defence Clause (Article 42(7) TEU) in the face of new threats
Hearing -
SEDE
29-11-2021
Competitiveness of EU agriculture
Hearing -
AGRI
30-11-2021
Eliminating Violence against Women - Inter-parliamentary committee meeting
Other event -
FEMM

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