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China tightens its grip over the South China Sea

24-02-2021

Of all the disputed areas claimed by China, the South China Sea (SCS) has been the most prominent in recent years, since it involves the largest number of actors with overlapping claims to maritime features and waters, as well as non-claimant countries, owing to its strategic importance as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. In 2020, China stepped up its salami-slicing tactics to assert its sweeping 'historic' rights, while Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam dismissed them in ...

Of all the disputed areas claimed by China, the South China Sea (SCS) has been the most prominent in recent years, since it involves the largest number of actors with overlapping claims to maritime features and waters, as well as non-claimant countries, owing to its strategic importance as one of the world's busiest shipping lanes. In 2020, China stepped up its salami-slicing tactics to assert its sweeping 'historic' rights, while Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam dismissed them in an alignment of positions supported by a 2016 landmark arbitration award under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). In 2020, the United States' previous neutral position on China's maritime claims shifted to dismissing them as unlawful. The EU remained attached to its position of not taking sides with either party's claims. Some EU Member States have become more vocal in dismissing China's 'historic' rights and have increased their presence in the SCS. This publication is an update of a briefing published in 2016, PE 586.671.

Taiwan in 2020 and beyond

24-02-2021

The Taiwanese went to the polls in early 2020 and overwhelmingly elected President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for a second term, while navigating pervasive disinformation and influence operations and closely watching events in Hong Kong. The Covid-19 pandemic was an opportunity for Taiwan to leverage its robust virus containment policy for global outreach. The self-ruled democratic island somewhat reduced its economic overreliance on mainland China through diversification ...

The Taiwanese went to the polls in early 2020 and overwhelmingly elected President Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for a second term, while navigating pervasive disinformation and influence operations and closely watching events in Hong Kong. The Covid-19 pandemic was an opportunity for Taiwan to leverage its robust virus containment policy for global outreach. The self-ruled democratic island somewhat reduced its economic overreliance on mainland China through diversification and relocation strategies. Taiwan witnessed a spike in military incursions into its airspace and waters by mainland China's air and naval forces. Key issues to watch are the impact of the strategic rivalry between the US and China on Taiwan's economy and the future of US strategic ambiguity as a deterrent against a potential hostile invasion of the island. This is an update of the 2019 EPRS briefing Taiwan's political survival in a challenging geopolitical context, PE 635.606.

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

17-02-2021

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 aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties (BITs ...

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 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 had concluded prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 when the EU gained competence for most investment issues. The CAI was intended to go far beyond traditional investment protection, also covering 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. On 30 December 2020, negotiators reached an agreement in principle which is now undergoing legal scrubbing and will subsequently be translated into all official EU languages – which may take up to one year – before it will be formally submitted to the Council for approval and to the European Parliament for consent. Second edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. The previous editon was from September 2020.

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: How lean, clean, and green is the AIIB?

08-02-2021

In 2013, China proposed to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a new source of infrastructure financing in Asia. Like the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, the AIIB reflects the emergence of China's new, much more assertive foreign policy posture. The AIIB opened for business in 2016 shortly after the signature of the Paris Agreement, with the pledge to be 'lean, clean and green'. Notably the United States (US) perceived the bank as a game-changer for established multilateral ...

In 2013, China proposed to establish the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as a new source of infrastructure financing in Asia. Like the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, the AIIB reflects the emergence of China's new, much more assertive foreign policy posture. The AIIB opened for business in 2016 shortly after the signature of the Paris Agreement, with the pledge to be 'lean, clean and green'. Notably the United States (US) perceived the bank as a game-changer for established multilateral development banks (MDBs) and the global financial architecture. Despite pressure from the US, most of its allies − except Japan − joined the AIIB, arguing that shaping the bank's business model from the inside was a better option than criticising it from the outside. With over 100 members at the end of 2020, the AIIB has become the second largest MDB after the World Bank. The fact that the AIIB numbers advanced economies among its members has won legitimacy for China's new platform for economic diplomacy, boosting China's reputation as a proponent of (often selective) multilateralism. The bank's strategy of attracting Western donors as members with limited voting rights, of recruiting senior staff from other MDBs and of initially only co-financing projects with other MDBs, using their standards, has earned it credibility, 'triple A' credit ratings and easy access to capital markets, prerequisites for rapid expansion into sectors such as digital infrastructure. However, the AIIB has been criticised for its innovative governance features, the flexibility embedded in its strategies, selective convergence of its standards with those of traditional MDBs and the gap between its green rhetoric and the failure to green its fossil fuel-dominated lending portfolio. The AIIB is set to adopt a revised environmental and social framework in April 2021. Integrating stringent green targets in line with its 2020 strategic target of giving climate financing a 50 % share of all project approvals by 2025 could align the AIIB with other MDBs and ease cooperation with European banks.

Revisión del Reglamento sobre la aplicación y el cumplimiento de las normas comerciales internacionales

13-01-2021

Desde diciembre de 2019, el bloqueo del Órgano Permanente de Apelación del Órgano de Solución de Diferencias de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) crea lagunas jurídicas para la aplicación de las normas comerciales internacionales. Para colmar estas lagunas, la Comisión Europea propuso ampliar el ámbito de aplicación del Reglamento (UE) n.º 654/2014 sobre el ejercicio de los derechos de la Unión para aplicar y hacer cumplir las normas comerciales internacionales. Está previsto que el Parlamento ...

Desde diciembre de 2019, el bloqueo del Órgano Permanente de Apelación del Órgano de Solución de Diferencias de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC) crea lagunas jurídicas para la aplicación de las normas comerciales internacionales. Para colmar estas lagunas, la Comisión Europea propuso ampliar el ámbito de aplicación del Reglamento (UE) n.º 654/2014 sobre el ejercicio de los derechos de la Unión para aplicar y hacer cumplir las normas comerciales internacionales. Está previsto que el Parlamento Europeo someta a votación en primera lectura, durante el periodo parcial de sesiones de enero, el texto acordado con el Consejo mediante diálogo tripartito.

Review of EU Enforcement Regulation for trade disputes

11-01-2021

On 12 December 2019, the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules ('the Enforcement Regulation') of 15 May 2014. The Enforcement Regulation enables the EU to suspend or withdraw concessions or other obligations under international trade agreements in order to respond to breaches by third countries of international trade rules that affect the EU's commercial ...

On 12 December 2019, the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 654/2014 concerning the exercise of the EU's rights for the application and enforcement of international trade rules ('the Enforcement Regulation') of 15 May 2014. The Enforcement Regulation enables the EU to suspend or withdraw concessions or other obligations under international trade agreements in order to respond to breaches by third countries of international trade rules that affect the EU's commercial interests. The proposed amendments would enable the EU to impose counter-measures in situations where EU trade partners violate international trade rules and block the dispute settlement procedures included in multilateral, regional and bilateral trade agreements, thus preventing the EU from obtaining final binding rulings in its favour. The latter are required under the current EU regulation to enforce international trade rules. The Council adopted its negotiating position on 8 April 2020, and the Committee on International Trade (INTA) of the European Parliament adopted its position on 6 July 2020. Trilogue negotiations concluded on 28 October with a provisional agreement, which INTA endorsed on 10 November. Parliament is now set to vote on adopting the agreed text during the January 2021 part-session. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

China's economic recovery and dual circulation model

11-12-2020

After a delayed response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in late 2019, China has expanded its sophisticated digital surveillance systems to the health sector, linking security and health. It has apparently successfully contained the virus, while most other countries still face an uphill battle with Covid-19. China emerged first from lockdown, and its economy rapidly entered a V-shaped recovery. As in 2008, China is driving the global recovery and will derive strategic gains from this role ...

After a delayed response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in late 2019, China has expanded its sophisticated digital surveillance systems to the health sector, linking security and health. It has apparently successfully contained the virus, while most other countries still face an uphill battle with Covid-19. China emerged first from lockdown, and its economy rapidly entered a V-shaped recovery. As in 2008, China is driving the global recovery and will derive strategic gains from this role. However, China's relations with advanced economies and some emerging markets have further deteriorated during the pandemic, as its aggressive foreign policy posture has triggered pushback. This has created a more hostile environment for China's economic development and has had a negative impact on China's hitherto almost unconstrained access to these economies. The need to make the Chinese economy more resilient against external shocks and the intention to tap into the unexploited potential of China's huge domestic market in order to realise the nation's ambitions of becoming a global leader in cutting-edge technologies have prompted the Chinese leadership to launch a new economic development paradigm for China. The 'dual circulation development model' still lacks specifics but is expected to be a key theme in China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) to be officially approved in March 2021. The concept suggests that, in future, priority will be given to 'domestic circulation' over 'international circulation'. China's more inward-looking development strategy geared towards greater self-reliance in strategic sectors requires major domestic structural reform and investment to unleash the purchasing power of China's low-end consumers and the indigenous innovation efforts to achieve the technological breakthroughs needed. These innovation efforts are expected to be largely state-driven. For the EU the envisaged shifts create challenges and opportunities. On the one hand, competition with China will become fiercer and, on the other, the EU can pursue openings for supply chain diversification with like-minded countries and thus boost its open strategic autonomy.

Acuerdo sobre Indicaciones Geográficas UE China

05-11-2020

Durante el período parcial de sesiones de noviembre I, el Parlamento votará sobre la concesión de su aprobación a la celebración del Acuerdo UE China sobre cooperación en materia de indicaciones geográficas y protección de indicaciones geográficas, es decir, de signos distintivos vinculados principalmente a productos agroalimentarios de una determinada calidad, reputación u otras características atribuibles a su origen geográfico específico. El Acuerdo añade un nuevo elemento al marco jurídico de ...

Durante el período parcial de sesiones de noviembre I, el Parlamento votará sobre la concesión de su aprobación a la celebración del Acuerdo UE China sobre cooperación en materia de indicaciones geográficas y protección de indicaciones geográficas, es decir, de signos distintivos vinculados principalmente a productos agroalimentarios de una determinada calidad, reputación u otras características atribuibles a su origen geográfico específico. El Acuerdo añade un nuevo elemento al marco jurídico de las relaciones de la UE con China, que se basa actualmente, en particular, en el Acuerdo de Cooperación Comercial y Económica entre la Comunidad Económica Europea y la República Popular de China, de 1985. Su objetivo es proteger cien indicaciones geográficas de la UE y otras cien de China contra la imitación y la usurpación en los territorios de la otra Parte, así como aplicar el principio de reciprocidad en los vínculos entre la UE y China.

Amazon deforestation and EU-Mercosur deal

29-10-2020

After coming to a political agreement on the trade pillar of the three-pronged EU-Mercosur association agreement in June 2019, the EU and the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) reached agreement on the political dialogue and cooperation parts in July 2020. However, as environmental deregulation and deforestation continue unabated in Brazil, opposition to the deal is growing. It is unlikely to be submitted to the European Parliament for consent in its current ...

After coming to a political agreement on the trade pillar of the three-pronged EU-Mercosur association agreement in June 2019, the EU and the four founding members of Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) reached agreement on the political dialogue and cooperation parts in July 2020. However, as environmental deregulation and deforestation continue unabated in Brazil, opposition to the deal is growing. It is unlikely to be submitted to the European Parliament for consent in its current form. A study of the trade pillar's provisions concludes that, taking the risk of deforestation into account, the deal's environmental costs are likely to exceed its economic gains. This raises doubts as to whether Brazil's compliance with its climate change commitments can realistically be achieved based on provisions devoid of an effective enforcement mechanism.

Acuerdos internacionales en curso: Modernización del pilar comercial del Acuerdo Global UE-México

02-10-2020

El 21 de abril de 2018 la Unión Europea (UE) y México llegaron a un Acuerdo de principio sobre un pilar comercial modernizado del Acuerdo de asociación económica, concertación política y cooperación entre la UE y México, también conocido como Acuerdo Global, vigente desde 2000. El 28 de abril de 2020 las negociaciones concluyeron formalmente después de que se llegara a un acuerdo sobre el único punto pendiente: el acceso de la UE a los contratos públicos subfederales en México. El pilar comercial ...

El 21 de abril de 2018 la Unión Europea (UE) y México llegaron a un Acuerdo de principio sobre un pilar comercial modernizado del Acuerdo de asociación económica, concertación política y cooperación entre la UE y México, también conocido como Acuerdo Global, vigente desde 2000. El 28 de abril de 2020 las negociaciones concluyeron formalmente después de que se llegara a un acuerdo sobre el único punto pendiente: el acceso de la UE a los contratos públicos subfederales en México. El pilar comercial del Acuerdo Global constituyó el primer acuerdo de liberalización comercial que celebraba la UE con un país latinoamericano. Ha contribuido a aumentar de manera considerable el comercio de servicios y productos para uso industrial entre la UE y México. Sin embargo, se ha quedado obsoleto, ya que ambas partes han celebrado diversos una gran diversidad de acuerdos comerciales preferenciales con disposiciones más recientes que reflejan los nuevos avances en las políticas comerciales y de inversión. La eliminación de las barreras no arancelarias al comercio y una mayor liberalización del comercio de productos agrícolas permitirían a la UE y a México mejorar su ventaja competitiva en los mercados de la otra parte. Tras el control jurídico y la traducción del pilar comercial, este pasará a formar parte de un Acuerdo Global de tres ejes que también contendrá pilares renovados en materia de diálogo político y cooperación y que firmarán el Consejo de la UE y su homólogo mexicano. Seguidamente, el nuevo Acuerdo Global se remitirá al Parlamento Europeo para su aprobación. Segunda edición de un briefing elaborado originalmente por Roderick Harte. Los briefings sobre «Acuerdos internacionales en curso» se actualizan en fases clave a lo largo de todo el proceso, desde los debates iniciales hasta la ratificación.

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