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The informal economy and coronavirus in Latin America

04-05-2021

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in Latin America's worst economic and social crisis in decades, with a disproportionate impact on informal workers. The informal economy describes economic activity by workers or economic units that is not or only insufficiently covered by formal legal or practical arrangements. Although it is on the decline in Latin America, the informal economy still accounts for slightly over half of all jobs in the region. To counteract the spread of Covid-19, various confinement ...

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in Latin America's worst economic and social crisis in decades, with a disproportionate impact on informal workers. The informal economy describes economic activity by workers or economic units that is not or only insufficiently covered by formal legal or practical arrangements. Although it is on the decline in Latin America, the informal economy still accounts for slightly over half of all jobs in the region. To counteract the spread of Covid-19, various confinement measures were implemented in Latin American countries. These lockdowns have had a substantial effect on earnings in the informal economy, some estimations show income contraction of up to 80 %. By its very nature, the informal economy leaves workers vulnerable to external shocks. Inadequate or non-existent social safety nets mean that income losses can quickly lead to poverty or death. Despite several Latin American countries being classified as high- or upper middle-income countries, large parts of the region's inhabitants lack access to health care. For those who do have access, out-of-pocket expenses are high. Furthermore, many public hospitals are overstrained and lack the qualified staff to deal with a health crisis. The pre-existing levels of high inequality have been aggravated since the start of the pandemic. Various economic and social policy responses have been implemented to alleviate the current circumstances. Nevertheless, limited fiscal space and a lack of state capacity weakens the effectiveness of such policies. The situation is worsened by an expected slow economic recovery: estimates project a return to pre-pandemic levels of aggregate output only by the end of 2023. The European Union has pledged €918 million to support the region under the Team Europe package.

The coronavirus pandemic in Latin America

28-04-2021

Latin America is among the world's regions worst affected by Covid-19, and its economies, employment and even human rights are already suffering seriously, and are expected to continue to do so. Governments and international organisations, including the EU, are making efforts to mitigate the consequences, but the results remain uncertain. This is an update of an 'At a glance' note from October 2020.

Latin America is among the world's regions worst affected by Covid-19, and its economies, employment and even human rights are already suffering seriously, and are expected to continue to do so. Governments and international organisations, including the EU, are making efforts to mitigate the consequences, but the results remain uncertain. This is an update of an 'At a glance' note from October 2020.

Mexico's Parliament and other political institutions

21-01-2021

The United Mexican States is the third-largest country in Latin America, with the second-largest economy and population. It is a federal republic, composed of 31 states plus Mexico City. The country is an electoral democracy with universal suffrage, a presidential system of government and separation of powers. The executive power is vested in the President of the Republic, the legislative power in the bicameral Congress of the Union and the judicial power in the Federal Courts of Justice. States ...

The United Mexican States is the third-largest country in Latin America, with the second-largest economy and population. It is a federal republic, composed of 31 states plus Mexico City. The country is an electoral democracy with universal suffrage, a presidential system of government and separation of powers. The executive power is vested in the President of the Republic, the legislative power in the bicameral Congress of the Union and the judicial power in the Federal Courts of Justice. States are headed by a governor and have unicameral legislatures. Mexico has always had a multilateral vocation, maintaining a wide presence in global and regional organisations. It has close historical and cultural ties with the EU, with which it shares fundamental values. Mexico was the first Latin American country to sign an economic partnership, political coordination and cooperation agreement (a 'Global Agreement', which has just been modernised) with the EU, and is – alongside Brazil – a strategic partner to the EU in the region. Relations between the European Parliament and the Mexican Congress of the Union are mainly maintained through the EU-Mexico Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), made up of delegations from both sides. The European Parliament and the Congress of the Union also work together at the bi-regional level in the framework of the Euro-Latin America Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat).

Brazil's Parliament and other political institutions

14-01-2021

With an area of nearly 8.5 million km2 and a population of around 212 million (approximately twice the size of the EU with half the population), Brazil is Latin America's largest and most populated country, the biggest democracy (and, despite many observers' concerns over the current state of democracy) one of the freest countries) in the region. It is politically organised as a Federative Republic, formed by the Union, 26 states, 5 570 municipalities and the Federal District (Brasilia). The Brazilian ...

With an area of nearly 8.5 million km2 and a population of around 212 million (approximately twice the size of the EU with half the population), Brazil is Latin America's largest and most populated country, the biggest democracy (and, despite many observers' concerns over the current state of democracy) one of the freest countries) in the region. It is politically organised as a Federative Republic, formed by the Union, 26 states, 5 570 municipalities and the Federal District (Brasilia). The Brazilian Constitution establishes the principle of the separation of powers of the Union into legislative, executive and judiciary. The executive power is vested in the president of the Republic, who is both head of state and head of the government. The president is elected by universal suffrage, together with the vice-president, for a four-year mandate, and can be re-elected only once. The judicial power is exerted by different organs and courts at national and state level. Finally, the legislative power is vested in the National Congress, a bicameral Parliament with a chamber of deputies and a federal senate. Following the 2018 legislative elections, there are 30 different parties represented in the Chamber of Deputies and 21 in the Senate. Currently, the proportion of women deputies is 14.6 %, and senators is 13.6 %, one of the lowest in the region. Due to its history and its continental dimensions, Brazil is a very diverse country in terms of culture, population and religion. It has assumed a leadership role in the region, and has been firm in its commitment in multilateral world fora and South-South cooperation. Brazil is a strategic partner of the EU. The European Parliament maintains a regular bilateral dialogue with the Brazilian National Congress through its Delegation for Relations with Brazil, as well at a multilateral level through its Delegation for the Relations with Mercosur and the EuroLat Parliamentary Assembly.

The Portuguese Parliament and EU affairs

12-01-2021

According to the Portuguese Constitution adopted in 1976, Portugal is a semi-presidential Republic and a parliamentary democracy. It is a unitary state which also includes two autonomous regions (the Azores and Madeira archipelagos) with their own political and administrative statutes and self-governing institutions (Article 6 of the Constitution). The Constitution of the Third Republic created a single representative body: the Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República). The Assembly exercises ...

According to the Portuguese Constitution adopted in 1976, Portugal is a semi-presidential Republic and a parliamentary democracy. It is a unitary state which also includes two autonomous regions (the Azores and Madeira archipelagos) with their own political and administrative statutes and self-governing institutions (Article 6 of the Constitution). The Constitution of the Third Republic created a single representative body: the Assembly of the Republic (Assembleia da República). The Assembly exercises national sovereign power alongside the President of the Republic, the Government and the courts. Its primary function is to represent all Portuguese citizens, and as such it acts as the main legislator and is the body to which the executive is accountable. The Assembly and the Government share legislative competence, but the Assembly also has exclusive responsibility to legislate on certain specific matters such as on elections and referendums, the working of the Constitutional Court, political associations and parties, and national symbols (see Article 164 of the Constitution for the full list). This briefing is part of an EPRS series on national parliaments (NPs) and EU affairs. It aims to provide an overview of the way the NPs of EU Member States are structured and how they process, scrutinise and engage with EU legislation. It also provides information on relevant NP publications.

Controversial legislative elections in Venezuela

21-12-2020

The mandate of the Venezuelan National Assembly, democratically elected in 2015, comes to an end on 5 January 2021; to renew it, the Maduro government called new legislative elections for 6 December 2020. While the government tightened its grip on power to secure a favourable outcome for itself, including through the appointment of a new electoral council, the opposition-led National Assembly presided by Juan Guaidó insisted on holding free and fair presidential and legislative elections with recognised ...

The mandate of the Venezuelan National Assembly, democratically elected in 2015, comes to an end on 5 January 2021; to renew it, the Maduro government called new legislative elections for 6 December 2020. While the government tightened its grip on power to secure a favourable outcome for itself, including through the appointment of a new electoral council, the opposition-led National Assembly presided by Juan Guaidó insisted on holding free and fair presidential and legislative elections with recognised international observers. The main opposition parties boycotted the 6 December elections – which were also ignored by at least 70 % of eligible voters – and held an alternative public consultation from 7 to 12 December, which resulted in a slightly higher turnout. The opposition described the elections as fraudulent, claiming that they had not met the minimum democratic requirements to qualify as free, fair and transparent. This position was shared by international players such as the European Union, the United States, the Organisation of American States and the Lima Group. Though the outlook of the Venezuelan crisis remains uncertain, there is still hope for a negotiated solution.

The coronavirus pandemic in Latin America

30-10-2020

Latin America is among the regions of the world worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its economies, employment and even human rights will suffer seriously. Governments, and regional and international organisations, including the EU, are making efforts to mitigate the consequences, but the results remain uncertain.

Latin America is among the regions of the world worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its economies, employment and even human rights will suffer seriously. Governments, and regional and international organisations, including the EU, are making efforts to mitigate the consequences, but the results remain uncertain.

Bolivia in the run-up to the 2020 elections

14-10-2020

The Plurinational State of Bolivia has been experiencing a difficult socio-political situation since the resignation of former President, Evo Morales, and the annulment of the 2019 general election. The new elections called for May 2020 have had to be postponed twice, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will finally be held on 18 October 2020. Morales' party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), and its presidential candidate, Luis Arce, are leading the polls, closely followed by Carlos Mesa (Citizens' Community ...

The Plurinational State of Bolivia has been experiencing a difficult socio-political situation since the resignation of former President, Evo Morales, and the annulment of the 2019 general election. The new elections called for May 2020 have had to be postponed twice, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will finally be held on 18 October 2020. Morales' party, Movement for Socialism (MAS), and its presidential candidate, Luis Arce, are leading the polls, closely followed by Carlos Mesa (Citizens' Community, CC), making a second round seem likely.

Coronavirus and international sanctions: Should sanctions be eased during the pandemic?

20-05-2020

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least ...

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least possible humanitarian cost. Usually it does this by targeting restrictions at key individuals or organisations, and in some cases sectors, rather than a country's economy as a whole. Critics of sanctions claim that US-imposed trade restrictions have prevented Iran from purchasing essential medical supplies needed to fight the pandemic. They also argue that EU and US sanctions make desperately impoverished Zimbabwe and Sudan even more vulnerable than they would otherwise be. Both the European Union and the United States defend their policies, but acknowledge the importance of humanitarian exceptions. Although the European Union has not said that it will lift any of its restrictive measures, it has offered various forms of support to several sanctions-hit countries.

Continuing political crisis in Venezuela

03-03-2020

One year after Juan Guaidó's self-proclamation as interim President of Venezuela, the political crisis affecting the country is far from over, as shown by the government's latest failed attempt to neutralise the opposition forces in the National Assembly. The legislative election announced by Nicolas Maduro for 2020 will not improve the country's political situation unless it is accompanied by a free and fair presidential election.

One year after Juan Guaidó's self-proclamation as interim President of Venezuela, the political crisis affecting the country is far from over, as shown by the government's latest failed attempt to neutralise the opposition forces in the National Assembly. The legislative election announced by Nicolas Maduro for 2020 will not improve the country's political situation unless it is accompanied by a free and fair presidential election.

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