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The Quad: An emerging multilateral security framework of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region

18-03-2021

The Indo-Pacific region houses the largest share of global GDP, the world's busiest trade routes, largest population and most powerful militaries. After having successfully worked side by side in coordinating the 2004 tsunami relief, in 2007 Australia, India, Japan and the US (the Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) held meetings with each other to discuss security-related issues, and their navies held a military exercise. Although the grouping ended its activities prematurely in 2008 ...

The Indo-Pacific region houses the largest share of global GDP, the world's busiest trade routes, largest population and most powerful militaries. After having successfully worked side by side in coordinating the 2004 tsunami relief, in 2007 Australia, India, Japan and the US (the Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) held meetings with each other to discuss security-related issues, and their navies held a military exercise. Although the grouping ended its activities prematurely in 2008, China's growing assertiveness in the region prompted it to remain active in bilateral and trilateral cooperation on security issues. Meetings among senior officials resumed in November 2017 in Manila. In November 2020, the Quad navies held a major military exercise. The first Quad summit took place in March 2021. The grouping has emphasised that its goal is to maintain the liberal rules-based international order, which China seeks to undermine through a revisionist challenge of the status quo. Its efforts are not focused on creating institutions or military alliances, but rather, on generating gradual convergence of cooperation on multiple issues, including Covid-19, climate change, critical and emerging technologies, counterterrorism, cybersecurity and disaster recovery. Establishing further cooperation with other like-minded countries in the region and co-existing with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are among the Quad's future challenges. The EU is not a traditional security player in the Indo-Pacific; however, as the region is particularly relevant to its trade, it has a strong interest in avoiding disruption of the sea lanes. The Indo-Pacific could be an area of cooperation with the new US administration. France, Germany and the Netherlands have published strategies or guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region, which has stepped up expectations about the forthcoming strategy for the region by the EU as a whole.

Short overview of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

10-02-2021

15 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on 15 November 2020. Upon ratification, it will become the largest preferential trade agreement by economic output in the world, with the potential to increase trade and integration among the economies of East Asia. This briefing presents the structure and the content of the agreement, its relationship to existing cooperation in the region, and discusses important economic and political implications. Several notable takeaways ...

15 countries signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on 15 November 2020. Upon ratification, it will become the largest preferential trade agreement by economic output in the world, with the potential to increase trade and integration among the economies of East Asia. This briefing presents the structure and the content of the agreement, its relationship to existing cooperation in the region, and discusses important economic and political implications. Several notable takeaways stand out. First, we highlight the economic and political significance of RCEP for the region stressing that it is the culmination of past efforts by East Asian countries to pursue economic integration. Second, we show that the agreement itself is considerably less ambitious than comparable agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) and European Union Free Trade Agreements with Asian countries. Third, we document that the final legal text itself does not seem to be dominated by any specific party. Fourth, despite its lack of ambition, the agreement is still expected to provide substantial trade gains for signatories, especially if it helps to consolidate global supply chains based in the region. Fifth, because of its structure, it is likely to be an important focal point for trade liberalization in the future providing European companies with important opportunities.

Autor externo

Joseph FRANCOIS, Manfred ELSIG

State of play of EU-Australia FTA talks

02-12-2020

In May 2018, the Council authorised the Commission to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia. Negotiations were officially launched in June 2018. Between July 2018 and September 2020, eight negotiation rounds took place. The first chapter of the prospective EU-Australia FTA, concluded at the technical level, is on small and medium-sized enterprises. The ninth negotiation round started on 30 November 2020.

In May 2018, the Council authorised the Commission to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with Australia. Negotiations were officially launched in June 2018. Between July 2018 and September 2020, eight negotiation rounds took place. The first chapter of the prospective EU-Australia FTA, concluded at the technical level, is on small and medium-sized enterprises. The ninth negotiation round started on 30 November 2020.

New plant-breeding techniques: Applicability of EU GMO rules

13-11-2020

New plant genetic modification techniques, referred to as 'gene editing' or 'genome editing', have evolved rapidly in recent years, allowing much faster and more precise results than conventional plant-breeding techniques. They are seen as a promising innovative field for the agri-food industry, offering great technical potential. Consumers could benefit from enhanced nutritional quality or reduced allergenicity of food, for example, such as gluten-reduced wheat. There is, however, considerable debate ...

New plant genetic modification techniques, referred to as 'gene editing' or 'genome editing', have evolved rapidly in recent years, allowing much faster and more precise results than conventional plant-breeding techniques. They are seen as a promising innovative field for the agri-food industry, offering great technical potential. Consumers could benefit from enhanced nutritional quality or reduced allergenicity of food, for example, such as gluten-reduced wheat. There is, however, considerable debate as to how these new techniques should be regulated, and whether some or all of them should fall within the scope of EU legislation on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Those who take the view that the new techniques should be exempt from GMO legislation generally argue that the end product is very similar to products generated using conventional breeding techniques, or that similar changes could also occur naturally. Those who consider that the new techniques should fall within the scope of GMO legislation contend that the processes used mean that plants bred using the new techniques are in fact genetically modified. In July 2018, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that genome-edited organisms fall under the scope of European GMO legislation. While welcomed by some, the judgment also sparked criticism and calls for the new European Commission to amend EU GMO legislation. In November 2019, the Council requested that the Commission submit a study in light of the Court of Justice judgment regarding the status of novel genomic techniques (NGTs), by 30 April 2021. This is an updated edition of an October 2019 Briefing.

Foreign interference in democracies: Understanding the threat, and evolving responses

22-09-2020

Across the world, democratic societies, institutions, processes and values are under increasing external and internal attack. The coronavirus crisis has, meanwhile, exacerbated the systemic struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, prompting authoritarian state and non-state actors to deploy a broad range of overt and covert instruments in their bid to destabilise their democratic counterparts. Against this backdrop, and following a string of examples of hostile meddling by authoritarian actors ...

Across the world, democratic societies, institutions, processes and values are under increasing external and internal attack. The coronavirus crisis has, meanwhile, exacerbated the systemic struggle between democracy and authoritarianism, prompting authoritarian state and non-state actors to deploy a broad range of overt and covert instruments in their bid to destabilise their democratic counterparts. Against this backdrop, and following a string of examples of hostile meddling by authoritarian actors to undermine democratic governing processes in countries such as Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States (US), Canada and Australia, the focus on foreign interference continues to sharpen. Among the EU's institutions, the European Parliament − arguably the flagship of European democracy − is pushing the policy response to foreign interference to the top of the political agenda. Among other initiatives and actions, in October 2019 it passed a resolution on countering foreign interference and has set up a special committee on foreign interference, whose constituent meeting is scheduled to take place in September 2020.

Australia's restrictions on movement in response to the coronavirus pandemic

27-04-2020

The Australian federal government, and state and territory governments, are working together to provide an effective national response to the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government's response, in terms of emergency measures designed to limit the spread of the virus, includes travel restrictions and efforts to ensure that travellers self-isolate on arrival in Australia. State and territory governments, for their part, have imposed travel restrictions between and within their jurisdictions, and ...

The Australian federal government, and state and territory governments, are working together to provide an effective national response to the coronavirus pandemic. The federal government's response, in terms of emergency measures designed to limit the spread of the virus, includes travel restrictions and efforts to ensure that travellers self-isolate on arrival in Australia. State and territory governments, for their part, have imposed travel restrictions between and within their jurisdictions, and imposed restrictions on social interaction, among other measures.

Australia: Economic indicators and trade with EU

24-02-2020

Australia was the world's 13th largest economy in 2018, with growth in gross domestic product (GDP) at 2.9 %. It has a strong and dynamic relationship with the EU. Negotiations for a free trade agreement between Australia and the EU were formally launched in June 2018. In 2018, Australia was the EU's 19th largest trading partner, with a 1.2% share of the EU's total trade. Further information on EU-Australia trade relations, such as the composition of trade between the two partners, can be found in ...

Australia was the world's 13th largest economy in 2018, with growth in gross domestic product (GDP) at 2.9 %. It has a strong and dynamic relationship with the EU. Negotiations for a free trade agreement between Australia and the EU were formally launched in June 2018. In 2018, Australia was the EU's 19th largest trading partner, with a 1.2% share of the EU's total trade. Further information on EU-Australia trade relations, such as the composition of trade between the two partners, can be found in this infographic, which also provides an economic snapshot of Australia.

Government system and institutions of Australia

24-02-2020

The Commonwealth of Australia, as Australia is officially known, was established on 1 January 1901 with the federation of six former British colonies. The Constitution, which came into effect on the same day, provides the rules by which Australia is governed and divides government responsibilities into three separate branches: parliament, executive and judiciary. In addition to being a federation, Australia is also a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elisabeth II, who ...

The Commonwealth of Australia, as Australia is officially known, was established on 1 January 1901 with the federation of six former British colonies. The Constitution, which came into effect on the same day, provides the rules by which Australia is governed and divides government responsibilities into three separate branches: parliament, executive and judiciary. In addition to being a federation, Australia is also a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Queen Elisabeth II, who resides in the United Kingdom (UK), is the official head of state of the Commonwealth of Australia. Australia's system of government is modelled on the Westminster system deriving from the British tradition. The Commonwealth parliament, made up of the Queen and the two Houses of Parliament, in addition to holding the legislative power, is at the heart of the tradition of responsible government. This means that government ministers, who all must be members of parliament, are accountable to, and must answer to, the parliament for their actions. There are three levels of government within the country, namely the Commonwealth (federal), state or territory, and local level. Under Australia's federal system, the powers of government are divided between the federal and the state governments. Out of the 10 territories that are part of the Commonwealth, two have been granted a level of self-government by the federal parliament. Consequently, Australia has a federal parliament, as well as six state and two territory parliaments. It also has a federal executive government, as well as six state and two territory executive governments. A third, local level of Australian government was established by state and territory governments. The High Court of Australia is the highest court in the judicial system.

Trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

03-05-2019

This study explores the context and potential of the FTA negotiations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand. Through an analysis of the status quo, as well as several academic and policy analyses, it highlights the main opportunities for the EU from the negotiations, as well as potential threats and obstacles to agreement. The study explores in detail the likely impacts of market opening on trade in goods and services, as well as the potential in other key areas, including public procurement ...

This study explores the context and potential of the FTA negotiations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand. Through an analysis of the status quo, as well as several academic and policy analyses, it highlights the main opportunities for the EU from the negotiations, as well as potential threats and obstacles to agreement. The study explores in detail the likely impacts of market opening on trade in goods and services, as well as the potential in other key areas, including public procurement and investment. It also highlights the current architecture of FTAs which Australia and New Zealand have established, especially the very recent Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), to which both are party. It explores how these agreements impact on the EU’s competitiveness in the Australian and New Zealand markets and how FTAs could be leveraged to improve EU integration with these partners and their broader region. The study also considers how trade and sustainable development (TSD) can be effectively integrated into the agreements, in line with the objectives of the EU’s ‘Trade for All’ strategy. Finally, several potential wider, more political impacts of the FTAs are underlined.

Autor externo

Louise CURRAN

Parliamentary scrutiny of trade policies across the western world

25-03-2019

The Lisbon Treaty increased the European Parliament’s powers over EU trade policy. Ten years after its entry into force it is timely to take stock of how the EP has made use of this leverage in shaping the EU’s trade negotiations. Such an exercise benefits from a comparison with other well-established parliamentary democracies, particularly the key partners with whom the EU has recently negotiated or has started to negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement. This study compares parliamentary scrutiny ...

The Lisbon Treaty increased the European Parliament’s powers over EU trade policy. Ten years after its entry into force it is timely to take stock of how the EP has made use of this leverage in shaping the EU’s trade negotiations. Such an exercise benefits from a comparison with other well-established parliamentary democracies, particularly the key partners with whom the EU has recently negotiated or has started to negotiate a comprehensive trade agreement. This study compares parliamentary scrutiny of trade policy in the EU with the United States, Canada and Australia. It concludes that the European Parliament has become powerful and active in trade policy, on a comparable level to the US Congress. Its powers exceed those of other Western democracies, such as Australia and Canada. From the latter the European Parliament may conclude that it is important to codify some of its informal oversight practices, before they may get lost over time again. This may also help to encourage its trading partners to increase their parliamentary involvement during negotiations with the EU. As regards the implementation of trade agreements however, the EU has very few competences in comparison to all other three countries analysed.

Autor externo

Bart KERREMANS, Johan ADRIAENSEN, Francesca COLLI, Evelyn COREMANS

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