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International Agreements in Progress - After Cotonou: Towards a new agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states

20-01-2021

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU ...

The Cotonou partnership agreement between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) states was due to expire in February 2020. The then ACP Group of States – which later became the Organisation of the ACP States (OACPS) – and the EU started negotiations for a 'post-Cotonou' agreement in September 2018. This time around, the main challenge for the EU is to maintain its cooperation with the three OACPS sub-regions and to continue to promote the values enshrined in the EU Treaties. At the same time, the new partnership should take into account the United Nations' sustainable development goals, the redefinition of the EU's strategies for the regions concerned, the ACP states' new ambitions and the changing balance of power at the global level. Both the EU and the OACPS have agreed on the principle of a common foundation complemented by three regional protocols. These multi-level negotiations, the coronavirus crisis and difficulties in reaching agreement on sensitive issues, such as migration management and sexual and reproductive health and rights, prevented the new agreement from being finalised by the initial expiry date set in the Cotonou Agreement. Thus, to avoid a legal vacuum in relations, the provisions of this agreement were extended until the end of 2021. After two years of negotiations, a political deal was reached in December 2020, including on the most complex issues. The European Parliament insisted on maintaining the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly and was successful in this endeavour; in addition, three regional parliamentary assemblies will be created in the future institutional set-up of the partnership.

The link between biodiversity loss and the increasing spread of zoonotic diseases

22-12-2020

Over the last decades, a variety of fatal infectious diseases have had zoonotic origins. The linkages between hosts, vectors, parasites and pathogens can be influenced by a multitude of factors, such as biodiversity, wildlife and land use. High levels of biodiversity may be a potential source of pathogen transmission, but biodiversity loss can also promote transmission by increasing the number of competent hosts for a pathogen. Biodiversity conservation reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases when ...

Over the last decades, a variety of fatal infectious diseases have had zoonotic origins. The linkages between hosts, vectors, parasites and pathogens can be influenced by a multitude of factors, such as biodiversity, wildlife and land use. High levels of biodiversity may be a potential source of pathogen transmission, but biodiversity loss can also promote transmission by increasing the number of competent hosts for a pathogen. Biodiversity conservation reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases when it provides additional habitats for species and reduces the potential contact between wildlife, livestock and humans. Additionally, host and vector management is a viable option. Other crucial measures include the restriction and sanitary control of wildlife trade, while considering the needs of indigenous peoples and local communities. Each case requires an assessment of the best way to reduce risk while considering implications for other ecosystem functions or services. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI).

Külső szerző

Frank VAN LANGEVELDE, Hugo René RIVERA MENDOZA

Japan's Parliament and other political institutions

15-12-2020

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can play a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet ...

Japan is a constitutional monarchy, with a parliamentary system of government based on the separation of powers. The Emperor is the symbol of the state and does not hold political functions, only performing ceremonial duties. Nevertheless, he can play a relevant diplomatic role. With Emperor Naruhito's enthronement in 2019, following his father's abdication, Japan has entered the Reiwa (beautiful harmony) age. The 2001 administrative reform strengthened the Prime Minister's leadership in the cabinet. The Chief Cabinet Secretary also plays a relevant role. Suga Yoshihide, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party, is the country's Prime Minister, succeeding Abe Shinzō, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, in 2020. The Supreme Court is at the top of the judicial system. It is not a constitutional court, despite handling appeals arising from actual disputes. The appointment of its Justices is reviewed by the people at the first general election of the Lower House following their appointment. Japan is a unitary state divided into 47 prefectures. A Metropolitan Government administers the capital, Tokyo. Japan's 1947 Constitution recognises 'local self-government.' Local governments carry out many of the national policies and programmes. They have limited autonomy, also because of their dependence on financial resources from the central government. Japan has a bicameral parliament − the Diet. Although the two chambers share legislative powers, the Lower House (House of Representatives) prevails in the legislative process and is empowered to adopt the final decision on the budget and on the approval of international treaties. Changes in the regional geopolitical environment and in the country's demographic structure have prompted debates on issues such as the revision of the 'pacifist' Article 9 of the Constitution and the seat distribution among electoral constituencies. This is an update of a briefing published in June 2020.

Japan's ageing society

15-12-2020

Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority. The country is also home to a record 80 000 centenarians. By 2036, people aged 65 and over will represent a third of the population. Since 2011, the Japanese population has also been shrinking: it is a rare case of large country whose overall population is becoming smaller in prosperous and peaceful times. Japan's population is expected to drop from ...

Japan is aging fast. Its 'super-aged' society is the oldest in the world: 28.7 % of the population are 65 or older, with women forming the majority. The country is also home to a record 80 000 centenarians. By 2036, people aged 65 and over will represent a third of the population. Since 2011, the Japanese population has also been shrinking: it is a rare case of large country whose overall population is becoming smaller in prosperous and peaceful times. Japan's population is expected to drop from 127 million in 2015 to 88 million by 2065. Japan's demographic crisis is the consequence of the combination of two elements: a high life expectancy and a low fertility rate. In 2018, Japan had the second highest life expectancy in the world. Meanwhile, since the 1970s the country has failed to raise its fertility rate to the replacement level. The working culture, a deterioration of employment opportunities for young men and the traditional gender division of labour are possible explanations for this trend. The consequences of the country's aging and shrinking population include economic crisis, budgetary challenges, pressure on job markets and depopulation of rural areas. The silver economy is meanwhile flourishing and Japan is at the forefront of robot development to face a declining labour force and to take care of its elderly. The government's efforts to address the demographic crisis have yet to succeed however, and immigration has been limited. Tokyo is engaged in global health cooperation and succeeded in incorporating the concept of human security in the sustainable development goals. It has also been active in international cooperation on ageing, with a focus on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. The EU's own ageing society is not far behind Japan. It could benefit from learning from Japan's experience, and cooperating on all aspects relating to demographic challenges, including on 'agetech': technology making comfortable longevity accessible to all.

Taxation of the digital economy: Latest developments

15-12-2020

There is an important ongoing debate on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy. Proposals on digital taxes, which are under negotiation in the OECD, are inter-linked with European Commission proposals on the same subject. As the Council did not reach an agreement on the Commission proposal for a digital services tax, national initiatives appeared in the interim until a global solution in the area of direct taxation could be found in the OECD. On 1 December 2020, the Council endorsed ...

There is an important ongoing debate on the direct and indirect taxation of the digital economy. Proposals on digital taxes, which are under negotiation in the OECD, are inter-linked with European Commission proposals on the same subject. As the Council did not reach an agreement on the Commission proposal for a digital services tax, national initiatives appeared in the interim until a global solution in the area of direct taxation could be found in the OECD. On 1 December 2020, the Council endorsed the text of amendments to the Directive on Administrative Cooperation between the Member States (known as DAC7), which will oblige digital platform operators to provide information on the operations they intermediate. If an agreement is not achieved at global level by July 2021, it could trigger an EU response in the form of a digital levy. There is also a debate on whether that levy should be similar to the Commission proposal that failed to get political backing or not.

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.

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.

G20 Summit of November 2020: Great expectations despite boycott calls

19-11-2020

On 21-22 November, under Saudi Arabia's presidency, the G20 will hold its first regular summit in a virtual format. Unavoidably the focus will be on the current crisis, more specifically on protecting lives and livelihoods and restoring growth. Given the crucial role it played in tackling the 2008-2009 financial crisis, hopes are high regarding the G20's potential role in proposing a financial and economic solution to deal with the ongoing downturn. Several major G20 members have invested massive ...

On 21-22 November, under Saudi Arabia's presidency, the G20 will hold its first regular summit in a virtual format. Unavoidably the focus will be on the current crisis, more specifically on protecting lives and livelihoods and restoring growth. Given the crucial role it played in tackling the 2008-2009 financial crisis, hopes are high regarding the G20's potential role in proposing a financial and economic solution to deal with the ongoing downturn. Several major G20 members have invested massive amounts of money to keep their economies afloat, in line with the decision of the extraordinary G20 summit held in the spring, but the depth of the current crisis requires additional action. Some critics have argued that the G20 is not up to its perceived role. The lack of US leadership in particular has been seen as an obstacle preventing the group from living up to its full potential. One of the crucial measures adopted by the G20 has been to freeze the official debt payments of developing countries, with the measure recently being extended. Many voices consider that this will not be enough to avoid state defaults however. Saudi Arabia, the first Arab country to hold the presidency, has been eager to use the opportunity provided by its G20 presidency to showcase its ambitious internal reform programme and its economic potential. The Saudis' leadership of the G20 in these times of turmoil has not escaped criticism, first of all because of the perceived inconsistency between stated objectives at G20 level and internal reality in the country, but also because of the role the country played in the oil price crash of 2020. Given the dire human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and in its fighting in Yemen, calls for a boycott of the summit have been multiplying. The European Parliament has suggested that the EU should downgrade its presence at the summit.

EU-India: Cooperation on climate

17-11-2020

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi ...

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi is a major promoter of the International Solar Alliance and, alongside other partners, the founder of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The EU and India have assumed a leading role in fighting climate change and have been increasingly cooperating with each other in this field, at both public- and private-sector levels. They have agreed partnerships on sectoral issues such as clean energy, water and urban development. The EU is supporting several Indian projects on climate action, sustainability and clean energy. At their 15th summit, held in July 2020, the EU and India placed a strong focus on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to engage constructively in its first global stocktaking in 2023.

State of play of EU–New Zealand FTA talks

12-11-2020

Negotiations on an EU free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand, one of the fastest-growing developed economies in the world, were launched in June 2018. Eight negotiating rounds took place between July 2018 and June 2020, resulting in the closure of the Transparency Chapter of the future FTA. The next round will be scheduled with the New Zealand government following the general elections held on 17 October 2020.

Negotiations on an EU free trade agreement (FTA) with New Zealand, one of the fastest-growing developed economies in the world, were launched in June 2018. Eight negotiating rounds took place between July 2018 and June 2020, resulting in the closure of the Transparency Chapter of the future FTA. The next round will be scheduled with the New Zealand government following the general elections held on 17 October 2020.

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