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China's compliance with selected fields of international law

09-09-2021

China has ratified numerous legally binding international agreements. Like other countries, it has a strong incentive to commit itself in this way: international agreements are a means of binding other treaty parties; strengthening international standing; creating a favourable legal framework for trade and investment; and, such as with the 1984 Sino-British Declaration on Hong Kong, settling territorial questions. At the same time, China has been careful to avoid making commitments in two areas in ...

China has ratified numerous legally binding international agreements. Like other countries, it has a strong incentive to commit itself in this way: international agreements are a means of binding other treaty parties; strengthening international standing; creating a favourable legal framework for trade and investment; and, such as with the 1984 Sino-British Declaration on Hong Kong, settling territorial questions. At the same time, China has been careful to avoid making commitments in two areas in particular: questions of national security and sovereignty, where it recalls a history of mistreatment by outside powers; and human rights, where its political and cultural traditions differ considerably from those of Western democracies. China has often included reservations precluding international arbitration in the international agreements that it has ratified. One notable exception to this rule is China's membership of the WTO and conclusion of trade and investment agreements, where arbitration is such a core part of the system as to be unavoidable. To the extent that China is accused of breaching its international commitments, these tend to concern its perceived national security interests and territorial sovereignty, as in the case of the governance of Hong Kong, and maritime and territorial rights in the South China Sea. In other areas, such as human rights and climate change agreements, China is typically careful to limit its commitments so that it does not formally breach them.

Bilateral trade: EU-US Explainer

28-07-2021

The EU and the US are each other's biggest economic partners, but have not yet been able to conclude a free trade agreement. Politically sensitive bilateral trade issues include US access to EU agricultural markets, EU access to US public procurement markets, data privacy regulations, climate policies, and taxation and regulation of major − chiefly American − digital service providers in the EU market.

The EU and the US are each other's biggest economic partners, but have not yet been able to conclude a free trade agreement. Politically sensitive bilateral trade issues include US access to EU agricultural markets, EU access to US public procurement markets, data privacy regulations, climate policies, and taxation and regulation of major − chiefly American − digital service providers in the EU market.

Externe auteur

European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington DC

Harnessing the new momentum in transatlantic relations: Potential areas for common action during the Biden presidency

10-06-2021

The transatlantic relationship has been witnessing a significant injection of renewed enthusiasm and policy activity since Joe Biden became President of the United States in January 2021. This paper focuses on three important issues on the rapidly evolving transatlantic policy agenda, exploring their potential for generating, in effect, new 'common global goods' during the Biden presidency. First, it looks at pathways towards developing some kind of 'transatlantic green deal', taking climate action ...

The transatlantic relationship has been witnessing a significant injection of renewed enthusiasm and policy activity since Joe Biden became President of the United States in January 2021. This paper focuses on three important issues on the rapidly evolving transatlantic policy agenda, exploring their potential for generating, in effect, new 'common global goods' during the Biden presidency. First, it looks at pathways towards developing some kind of 'transatlantic green deal', taking climate action, trade and climate diplomacy in the round. Second, it analyses the comparative fabrics of US and European societies through the triple lens of violent extremism, the rule of law and technological disruption. Third, the prospects for 'crisis-proofing' the transatlantic space for the future are examined by looking at defence, health security and multilateralism. The paper also explores some potential avenues for closer transatlantic parliamentary cooperation, building on the already strong relationship between the European Parliament and the US Congress.

The emerging contours of President Biden's foreign policy

03-06-2021

In mid-June 2021, United States (US) President Joe Biden is due to visit Europe for his first overseas trip since taking office in January. He will attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit from 11 to 13 June in Cornwall (United Kingdom), a NATO leaders' summit in Brussels on 14 June, followed by an EU-US summit on 15 June, and, on 16 June, a summit in Geneva (Switzerland) with Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Biden's arrival in Europe will mark almost five months in office, providing an opportunity ...

In mid-June 2021, United States (US) President Joe Biden is due to visit Europe for his first overseas trip since taking office in January. He will attend the Group of Seven (G7) summit from 11 to 13 June in Cornwall (United Kingdom), a NATO leaders' summit in Brussels on 14 June, followed by an EU-US summit on 15 June, and, on 16 June, a summit in Geneva (Switzerland) with Russian President Vladimir Putin. President Biden's arrival in Europe will mark almost five months in office, providing an opportunity to take stock of his foreign policy record thus far. As the Democratic candidate in the November 2020 US presidential election, Biden promised that if elected he would pursue a 'foreign policy for the middle class'. He argued that strengthening the majority of citizens' financial security, investing in US industrial capacity, and countering destabilising inequities at home, would allow a more socially and economically cohesive US to compete with and confront rivals on the world stage. He also argued that his administration's most pressing domestic challenges – including overcoming the coronavirus pandemic, and adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change on the US – would require international cooperation. The Biden Administration's policy papers, positions and statements identify two broad priorities that guide its foreign policy: first, 'building back better' on a global scale, in pursuit of the same imperative at home. Second, working with allies to counter the threats to US interests posed by authoritarian rivals such as China and Russia, while working tactically with those same rivals where theirs and US interests overlap. Biden's early foreign policy moves have fulfilled promises to reverse Trump Administration policies in key areas, such as by re-entering the Paris Agreement, re-affirming the importance of the transatlantic partnership and other traditional alliances, and engaging diplomatically with rivals. However, elements of the previous administration's policies remain, in particular some of its trade policy priorities.

Chinese counter-sanctions on EU targets

19-05-2021

On 22 March 2021, the People's Republic of China (PRC) announced sanctions on 10 individuals and 4 entities in the EU, including Members of the European Parliament and of the Council's Political and Security Committee, that it said 'severely harm China's sovereignty and interests and maliciously spread lies and disinformation'. It described the sanctions as a response to EU sanctions imposed the same day on a Chinese entity and individuals accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang (PRC). The dispute ...

On 22 March 2021, the People's Republic of China (PRC) announced sanctions on 10 individuals and 4 entities in the EU, including Members of the European Parliament and of the Council's Political and Security Committee, that it said 'severely harm China's sovereignty and interests and maliciously spread lies and disinformation'. It described the sanctions as a response to EU sanctions imposed the same day on a Chinese entity and individuals accused of human rights abuses in Xinjiang (PRC). The dispute comes at a sensitive time in EU-China relations, raising questions about approval of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), a proposed EU-China bilateral investment treaty.

President Biden's climate summit

03-05-2021

On 22 and 23 April 2021, United States (US) President Joe Biden convened a virtual summit of 40 world leaders in a bid to galvanise global efforts to address the climate crisis. There he announced new targets of cutting US net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 'between 26 and 28 %' by 2025, and by 'between 50 and 52 %' by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Biden also announced initiatives to help developing countries decarbonise, and encouraged other countries to match US ambition. The summit, one ...

On 22 and 23 April 2021, United States (US) President Joe Biden convened a virtual summit of 40 world leaders in a bid to galvanise global efforts to address the climate crisis. There he announced new targets of cutting US net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 'between 26 and 28 %' by 2025, and by 'between 50 and 52 %' by 2030, compared with 2005 levels. Biden also announced initiatives to help developing countries decarbonise, and encouraged other countries to match US ambition. The summit, one of a number of events leading up to the (delayed) 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow (United Kingdom) in November 2021, prompted several other countries to pledge new targets. The EU has welcomed the new US targets, but questions remain about their level of ambition and feasibility.

After the storming of the US Capitol: A second impeachment trial of President Trump?

20-01-2021

At 13.00 EST on 6 January 2021, the 117th United States Congress and US Vice-President Mike Pence assembled in the Capitol Building, seat of the US Congress in Washington, DC, to tally the electoral votes certified by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, thereby declaring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, respectively, US President-elect and Vice-President-elect. The ceremony was interrupted when an angry mob, seemingly encouraged by President Donald Trump in a speech earlier that day, broke into ...

At 13.00 EST on 6 January 2021, the 117th United States Congress and US Vice-President Mike Pence assembled in the Capitol Building, seat of the US Congress in Washington, DC, to tally the electoral votes certified by the 50 states and the District of Columbia, thereby declaring Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, respectively, US President-elect and Vice-President-elect. The ceremony was interrupted when an angry mob, seemingly encouraged by President Donald Trump in a speech earlier that day, broke into the Capitol and forced the Vice-President and Members of Congress to shelter in fear for their lives, while the intruders clashed with Capitol security and vandalised and stole property. Later that day, the combined forces of the police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Guard were able to evict the protesters and secure the building, allowing the Vice-President and Congress to re assemble and complete the ceremony. The invasion of the Capitol, a symbol of US democracy, has had dramatic political consequences. Trump has now been impeached by the House of Representatives for the second time − the only US President in history to be so. Democratic Party leaders had already appealed, the day after the intrusion, to Vice President Pence to use the Twenty-fifth Amendment to the US Constitution to replace Trump against his will before the end of his term on 20 January. The US Senate appears set to conduct an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office, but it is not certain that it has the authority to do so, or what the trial's legal or political outcome will be. This Briefing considers some of the options that Congress had to deprive President Trump of power immediately after 6 January, and the options that remain after Joe Biden becomes President on 20 January 2021.

The role of the Electoral College in US presidential elections

04-11-2020

The President and Vice-President of the United States of America are not elected directly by US voters, but rather by the Electoral College, a representative body composed of 538 electors chosen by voters in parallel contests in each of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. This body emerged during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as a compromise designed to ensure the continuing pre-eminence of the states in the US federal system, as well as to temper what were seen then as potentially ...

The President and Vice-President of the United States of America are not elected directly by US voters, but rather by the Electoral College, a representative body composed of 538 electors chosen by voters in parallel contests in each of the 50 US states and the District of Columbia. This body emerged during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 as a compromise designed to ensure the continuing pre-eminence of the states in the US federal system, as well as to temper what were seen then as potentially dangerous democratic passions. At first, state legislatures chose the electors, and it was only in the 19th century that state authorities began to appoint electors on the basis of the result of a popular vote. The operation of the Electoral College and the process by which it chooses a presidential 'ticket' has attracted growing attention in recent decades, on account of an increasingly polarised US political landscape and a changing electoral map. The existence of the Electoral College poses a number of basic questions about the fairness of the electoral process and popular representation in the United States. Moreover, there are many questions about how precisely the Electoral College process should be carried out, in order for it to be considered legitimate, especially as regards the behaviour of electors and their political parties during the election period. Two elections in the past two decades – those of 2000 and 2016 – have resulted in the victory of a candidate who received fewer votes nationwide than their opponent. Calls for the abolition of the institution and the introduction of direct election of the President by all citizens have become more frequent. Polls show a consistent majority in favour of this change, although this majority has narrowed and opinion has become more polarised along partisan lines as evidence has emerged of a structural advantage in the Electoral College for the Republican Party candidate. Nevertheless, this institution has endured for over two centuries of republican government, and a number of arguments are put forward in its defence. US public opinion is also more divided on the detail of proposed alternatives.

Externe auteur

European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington DC

Understanding US Presidential elections

16-10-2020

In August 2020, the two major political parties in the United States (US), the Democrats and the Republicans, formally nominated their respective candidates for the 59th US presidential election, which takes place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020. An initially crowded field of contenders in the Democratic primaries developed into a two-horse race between former US Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, with Biden declared the Democratic nominee on 18 August. He will now contest the presidential ...

In August 2020, the two major political parties in the United States (US), the Democrats and the Republicans, formally nominated their respective candidates for the 59th US presidential election, which takes place on Tuesday, 3 November 2020. An initially crowded field of contenders in the Democratic primaries developed into a two-horse race between former US Vice-President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, with Biden declared the Democratic nominee on 18 August. He will now contest the presidential election against the Republican candidate, who faced no significant primary challenge, the incumbent US President, Donald Trump. The US President is simultaneously head of state, head of government and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Presidential elections are therefore a hugely important part of American political life. Although millions of Americans vote in presidential elections every four years, the President is not, in fact, directly elected by the people. Citizens elect the members of the Electoral College, who then cast their votes for the President and Vice-President. While key elements of the presidential election are spelled out in the US Constitution, other aspects have been shaped by state laws, national party rules and state party rules. This explains why presidential campaigns have evolved over time, from the days when presidential candidates were nominated in the House of Representatives by the 'king caucus', to an almost exclusively party-dominated ‘convention’ system, and finally to the modern system of nominations based very largely on primary elections, introduced progressively to increase the participation of party supporters in the selection process. A number of additional developments have also played an important role in shaping today's presidential elections, notably political party efforts to limit 'front-loading' of primaries; the organisation of the Electoral College system and the changes to the campaign financing system. A previous version of this Briefing, written by Carmen-Cristina Cîrlig and Micaela Del Monte, was published in 2016.

United States Congress: Facts and Figures

14-02-2020

The Congress is the legislative branch of the US system of government and is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives (lower chamber) and the Senate (upper chamber). The formal powers of the Congress are set out in Article 1 of the US Constitution, and include making laws, collecting revenue, borrowing and spending money, declaring war, making treaties with foreign nations, and overseeing the executive branch. Elections to the US Congress occur in November every second year, with the ...

The Congress is the legislative branch of the US system of government and is divided into two chambers: the House of Representatives (lower chamber) and the Senate (upper chamber). The formal powers of the Congress are set out in Article 1 of the US Constitution, and include making laws, collecting revenue, borrowing and spending money, declaring war, making treaties with foreign nations, and overseeing the executive branch. Elections to the US Congress occur in November every second year, with the Congress convening the following January. The current, 116th, Congress was elected in November 2018 and was convened in January 2019. The US has a long-standing two-party system, which means that nearly all members of Congress belong to either the Republican or Democratic parties, while independent members (if any) generally align or sit with one of the two main parties. At the most recent simultaneous US Congressional and Presidential elections, back in November 2016, the Republicans won majorities in both houses of Congress, as well as winning the White House. However, the Democrats gained a majority in the House of Representatives at the November 2018 mid-term elections. This EPRS Briefing is designed to provide key facts and figures about the US Congress as an institution, including relevant comparisons with the European Parliament (EP). The back page contains a map showing the location of the various Congressional buildings on Capitol Hill, home to the Congress in Washington DC.

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