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Support for democracy through EU external policy: New tools for growing challenges

26-02-2021

The crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism across the globe, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, highlight the importance of taking a more strategic and autonomous approach to supporting democracy worldwide – an objective often balanced against other external policy aims until now. Since the start of the current parliamentary term, the EU has reviewed its political guidance on democracy and human rights. It has adopted or is about to adopt important measures to strengthen support ...

The crisis of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism across the globe, compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, highlight the importance of taking a more strategic and autonomous approach to supporting democracy worldwide – an objective often balanced against other external policy aims until now. Since the start of the current parliamentary term, the EU has reviewed its political guidance on democracy and human rights. It has adopted or is about to adopt important measures to strengthen support for democracy (including better monitoring and enforcement of relevant provisions in trade arrangements). The adoption of the new multiannual financial framework (MFF) and of a new development aid instrument bringing together all former external aid instruments provides new opportunities for better implementing EU funding and better exploiting the EU's leverage as a major provider of development aid. Digital challenges and the narrowing space for civil societies are among the priorities to be addressed. The challenge of engaging more difficult partners, such as China and Russia, has inspired calls to broaden the scope of a values-based agenda to other economic relations, such as investments. These new measures complement an already broad and complex toolbox integrating various external policies. Using the enhanced powers in external affairs provided by the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has set up extensive political and diplomatic dialogues to enhance partnerships beyond the more asymmetric, specific development assistance and trade leverage going back to the 1990s. While the EU has responded to violations of democratic norms by reducing aid and withdrawing trade preferences, it has consistently sought to build equal partnerships based on constructive and open dialogues, rather than use its economic and commercial traction in a coercive manner. This is an update of a Briefing from February 2018.

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.

Understanding EU financing for external action

16-02-2021

To achieve its external objectives and priorities, the EU needs financial means in adequate proportions. Its global role and impact are defined to a great extent by the scope of its resources, but just as importantly by their efficient and coordinated use. This paper aims to examine the structure of the EU external financing in the 2014-2020 MFF and the agreed changes for the upcoming post-2020 period. It gives a general outline of the main financing instruments and mechanisms along with the multiple ...

To achieve its external objectives and priorities, the EU needs financial means in adequate proportions. Its global role and impact are defined to a great extent by the scope of its resources, but just as importantly by their efficient and coordinated use. This paper aims to examine the structure of the EU external financing in the 2014-2020 MFF and the agreed changes for the upcoming post-2020 period. It gives a general outline of the main financing instruments and mechanisms along with the multiple actors involved, while also underlining the complexity of the architecture and highlighting the proposed changes and main trends for the future of financing the EU's external action.

Myanmar: The return of the junta

16-02-2021

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar armed forces seized power and imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the country since 2016. The coup threatens to derail Myanmar’s progress towards democracy, which began in 2008 after five decades of brutal military rule. Huge protests have broken out in Myanmar, calling for the restoration of the elected civilian government. The EU is considering additional sanctions against the country.

On 1 February 2021, the Myanmar armed forces seized power and imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, de facto leader of the country since 2016. The coup threatens to derail Myanmar’s progress towards democracy, which began in 2008 after five decades of brutal military rule. Huge protests have broken out in Myanmar, calling for the restoration of the elected civilian government. The EU is considering additional sanctions against the country.

Russia–Turkey relations: A fine line between competition and cooperation

11-02-2021

In November 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane on its way to Syria. The incident led to a diplomatic freeze, highlighting the tensions between the two countries, which compete for influence in their Middle Eastern and Eurasian neighbourhoods. Syria is one of several theatres where Turkey and Russia back opposing sides – sometimes covertly, deploying foreign mercenaries, sometimes openly, deploying troops and weapons; Libya is another. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which ...

In November 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane on its way to Syria. The incident led to a diplomatic freeze, highlighting the tensions between the two countries, which compete for influence in their Middle Eastern and Eurasian neighbourhoods. Syria is one of several theatres where Turkey and Russia back opposing sides – sometimes covertly, deploying foreign mercenaries, sometimes openly, deploying troops and weapons; Libya is another. The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which broke out in September 2020, threatened to become not just a proxy war between Turkey and Russia, the two countries' respective backers, but perhaps even a direct military clash between them. Although there are many frictions between them, Moscow and Ankara also have many good reasons to cooperate. Not only are there important economic ties between them, but the two countries are natural allies, increasingly assertive regional powers whose geopolitical ambitions have created strains with the West. Their overall relationship is therefore one of cooperation, in which individual areas of contention can be accommodated. While Turkey benefits from cooperating with Russia, overall its economic and security interests are best served by staying aligned with the West. Therefore, Ankara is unlikely to want to leave NATO or its customs union with the EU.

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.

Attuazione dell'accordo di associazione tra l'UE e l'Ucraina

04-02-2021

L'accordo di associazione costituisce il quadro principale per le relazioni tra l'UE e l'Ucraina e promuove la cooperazione economica e politica nonché il rispetto dei valori comuni. Nel corso della tornata di febbraio il Parlamento europeo sottoporrà a discussione una relazione d'iniziativa riguardo all'attuazione dell'accordo.

L'accordo di associazione costituisce il quadro principale per le relazioni tra l'UE e l'Ucraina e promuove la cooperazione economica e politica nonché il rispetto dei valori comuni. Nel corso della tornata di febbraio il Parlamento europeo sottoporrà a discussione una relazione d'iniziativa riguardo all'attuazione dell'accordo.

Navalny vs Kremlin: Latest developments

04-02-2021

Alexey Navalny is one of Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics. After surviving an assassination attempt and recovering in Germany, he returned to Russia in January 2021 to face arrest and imprisonment. Mass protests over his detention and revelations of high-level corruption show that an increasingly repressive Kremlin has not succeeded in crushing opposition to Putin's rule.

Alexey Navalny is one of Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics. After surviving an assassination attempt and recovering in Germany, he returned to Russia in January 2021 to face arrest and imprisonment. Mass protests over his detention and revelations of high-level corruption show that an increasingly repressive Kremlin has not succeeded in crushing opposition to Putin's rule.

Prossimi eventi

01-03-2021
Decarbonising European industry: hydrogen and other solutions (online event)
Workshop -
STOA
01-03-2021
Hearing on Transport of live animals in third countries
Audizione -
ANIT
01-03-2021
Exchange of views with HR/VP Josep Borrell
Audizione -
INGE

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