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Slowing down or changing track? Understanding the dynamics of 'Slowbalisation'

03-12-2020

Slowbalisation – understood as the slowdown in global integration – is said to have started in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The coronavirus pandemic brought about a further dramatic fall in cross-border movement of goods, services, capital and people, to the extent that commentators have proclaimed the beginning of deglobalisation. This paper examines whether the phenomenon described as slowbalisation is myth or reality, by looking at five different pathways of globalisation ...

Slowbalisation – understood as the slowdown in global integration – is said to have started in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007-2008. The coronavirus pandemic brought about a further dramatic fall in cross-border movement of goods, services, capital and people, to the extent that commentators have proclaimed the beginning of deglobalisation. This paper examines whether the phenomenon described as slowbalisation is myth or reality, by looking at five different pathways of globalisation: international trade, financial openness, increasing inequality, cross-border social movement, and digital exchanges. The key conclusion is that slowbalisation has not been a uniform trend. While international economic globalisation has indeed slowed, the 'digital leap' and continued inequality suggest that globalisation is merely changing form, not disappearing.

Textile workers in developing countries and the European fashion industry: Towards sustainability?

24-07-2020

As fashion becomes increasingly globalised, garment and footwear production has shifted to low-wage, mostly Asian countries. Thanks to lower manufacturing costs, clothes have become increasingly affordable for European consumers. For developing countries, fashion exports create jobs and growth, helping to bring poverty rates down. While there are benefits on both sides, the fashion industry highlights inequalities between the global North and South. With almost unlimited flexibility between countries ...

As fashion becomes increasingly globalised, garment and footwear production has shifted to low-wage, mostly Asian countries. Thanks to lower manufacturing costs, clothes have become increasingly affordable for European consumers. For developing countries, fashion exports create jobs and growth, helping to bring poverty rates down. While there are benefits on both sides, the fashion industry highlights inequalities between the global North and South. With almost unlimited flexibility between countries and factories, European and North American brands and retailers can dictate conditions to developing-country manufacturers, forcing them to cut costs in order to compete. The ultimate victims are factory workers, toiling long hours in harsh and sometimes dangerous conditions, for wages that barely enable subsistence. In many countries, restrictions on trade unions make it harder for workers to assert their rights. With employers reluctant or financially unable to invest in safety, many have died in industrial accidents, such as the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, which claimed over 1 000 lives. Decent work has become a priority for the United Nations, the International Labour Organization and other international organisations. The EU supports decent work, for example through its international trade agreements. European consumers and companies are also increasingly interested in sustainable fashion. After the Rana Plaza disaster, over 200 mostly European companies joined the Bangladesh Accord, which has helped to eliminate some of the worst safety hazards. While these are positive developments, a lot more still needs to be done.

Free trade or geo-economics? Trends in world trade

27-09-2019

The European Union (EU) is the biggest integrated economic zone and a guarantor of an open and predictable regulatory system able to determine its own economic destiny. But the behaviour of other global powers is increasingly calling this ability into question. China and the United States, especially, do not separate economic interests from geopolitical interests in the same way the EU does and are increasingly trying to gain geopolitical advantage using their economic might. The EU is known as ...

The European Union (EU) is the biggest integrated economic zone and a guarantor of an open and predictable regulatory system able to determine its own economic destiny. But the behaviour of other global powers is increasingly calling this ability into question. China and the United States, especially, do not separate economic interests from geopolitical interests in the same way the EU does and are increasingly trying to gain geopolitical advantage using their economic might. The EU is known as a fierce defender of a multilateral rules - based trade system with free but fair trade as its strategic policy objective. The EU will therefore do its utmost to save a ‘meaningful multilateralism’ by helping to reform the WTO, improve multilateral investment protection and conclude multilateral trade agreements. At the same time, the EU will defend its own interests by negotiating bilateral trade deals and applying trade defence and investment screening where needed. The EU has a strong interest in keeping the use of geo-economic measures manageable and avoid escalation into a trade war.

Global Trends in Inflation: Are Central Banks Barking up the Wrong Tree?

16-09-2019

The ECB will not be able to achieve its inflation target over the foreseeable future. Further expansionary measures will have at most a modest impact on financial market conditions and even less on overall demand. Moreover, the impact of any demand stimulus on inflation is highly uncertain. The reasons for low inflation persistence despite tight labour markets almost everywhere are not fully understood. It is a global phenomenon, but not necessarily due to globalisation. One global factor seems ...

The ECB will not be able to achieve its inflation target over the foreseeable future. Further expansionary measures will have at most a modest impact on financial market conditions and even less on overall demand. Moreover, the impact of any demand stimulus on inflation is highly uncertain. The reasons for low inflation persistence despite tight labour markets almost everywhere are not fully understood. It is a global phenomenon, but not necessarily due to globalisation. One global factor seems beyond dispute, namely a fall in global equilibrium real interests. However, different views of how the economy operates lead to very different views how central banks should react to this phenomenon. There is little evidence that cooperation between central banks would have a significant impact on their (limited) ability to achieve their inflation targets.

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Daniel Gros

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: International trade and globalisation

28-06-2019

The European Community was founded on the belief that economic integration leads to peace and economic prosperity. Trade is therefore a fundamental part of the identity of the European Union (EU) today. Given the success of the internal market in fostering the longest period of European peace in modern history, the EU considers itself an example of the benefits of trade, globalisation and economic openness. International trade policy is an exclusive competence of the EU, and with the combined economic ...

The European Community was founded on the belief that economic integration leads to peace and economic prosperity. Trade is therefore a fundamental part of the identity of the European Union (EU) today. Given the success of the internal market in fostering the longest period of European peace in modern history, the EU considers itself an example of the benefits of trade, globalisation and economic openness. International trade policy is an exclusive competence of the EU, and with the combined economic weight of its Member States behind it, the EU is one of the key players in global trade. Yet trade policy is about more than stability and growth for the EU, as it is also used to encourage poor countries to develop, foster international alliances and support fundamental values in the world. A strong partner in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the EU backs an international trading system based on rules rather than might. The benefits of globalisation and international trade have nevertheless been questioned in recent years, including within the EU. This has led it to reinvigorate its trade policy, in particular by presenting a new trade strategy and a reflection paper on harnessing globalisation. The EU's new 'trade for all' strategy addresses criticisms and focuses on making its trade policy more effective, transparent and value-based. In line with this strategy, the EU has pursued ongoing trade negotiations with renewed vigour and launched new trade and investment talks, resulting in state-of-the-art agreements with countries such as Canada and Japan. The EU faces uncertain times due to major shifts in international trade, coming from both the West and the East. In response, it seeks to promote economic openness, standing up for its values and protecting its interests. For example, the EU has retaliated against United States (US) steel tariffs and continues to defend the rules-based international trading order. Contentious trading practices on the part of third countries, including China, have led the EU to modernise its trade defence instruments, prepare a new foreign investment screening mechanism and seek a reform of the WTO. The EU is likely to continue this approach in the coming term, pursuing international cooperation and new agreements, possibly also at a continental level with Africa, and striving to protect its citizens and businesses from economic harm. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Industrial policy

28-06-2019

Through its industrial policy, the European Union (EU) has been striving to create conditions conducive to increasing industry growth and competitiveness since 1992. European industry remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing one job out of five, and is responsible for the bulk of EU exports and investment in research and innovation. Today, the aim of EU policy is to enable a successful transition towards digital, knowledge-based, decarbonised and more circular industry in Europe. To achieve ...

Through its industrial policy, the European Union (EU) has been striving to create conditions conducive to increasing industry growth and competitiveness since 1992. European industry remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing one job out of five, and is responsible for the bulk of EU exports and investment in research and innovation. Today, the aim of EU policy is to enable a successful transition towards digital, knowledge-based, decarbonised and more circular industry in Europe. To achieve this goal, the EU supports, coordinates and supplements Member State-level policies and actions, mainly in the areas of research and innovation, SMEs and digital technologies. In a Eurobarometer poll conducted for the European Parliament, more than half of EU citizens expressed support for increased EU action on industrial policy. Despite this, it is still the least understood policy area covered by the poll. Since 2014, efforts have been made in a number of areas, including investment (mainly through the European Fund for Strategic Investment, which supports industrial modernisation); digitalisation (for example setting up a number of research partnerships, or a growing network of digital innovation hubs); financing (making it easier for industry and SMEs to access public markets and attract venture funds); greener industry (for example through the revised 2030 emission targets, or measures on clean mobility); standardisation (bringing together relevant stakeholders to collectively develop and update European standards); and skills (mobilising key stakeholders to close the skills gap and providing an adequate workforce for modern industry). The European Parliament has called for ambitious policies in many of these areas. In the future, EU spending on key areas relevant to industrial policy is expected to rise moderately. The European Commission is proposing to boost the share of EU spending on research, SMEs and key infrastructure, although not as much as Parliament has requested. In the coming years, policies are likely to focus on seeking fairer global competition, stimulating innovation, building digital capacities and increasing the sustainability of European industry. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Global and regional value chains: Opportunities for European SMEs' internationalisation and growth

14-02-2019

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around ...

International value chains have emerged as the new paradigm for the organisation of production globally. Today, most production processes across the world are vertically fragmented as a result of the increased unbundling of tasks and functions and their sourcing from different geographical locations. The extent to which this expansion in supply-chain trade is global in character (which some describe as the 'Factory World' phenomenon), or is rather based on more intra-regional ties clustered around Europe, Asia and the Americas, is still being debated in the literature. Notwithstanding their geographical characteristics, international value chains offer increased opportunities for enterprises, by fostering their growth and internationalisation irrespective of their scale and size. To SMEs, they offer a broader range of channels through which they can participate more actively in global markets. By linking with international supply chains, SMEs can take a first step up the ladder, which – through spill-overs and knowledge transfers – can often give them access to assignments of higher added value. With greater interconnectedness, however, comes greater complexity. Not all SMEs are able to take advantage of the opportunities and link with international value chains in an effective way. More importantly, however, for those that do manage to integrate into international production chains, the magnitude and nature of the benefits will critically depend on the SMEs' entry point and position in global production networks and the links they can develop within those networks.

Reform of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

11-01-2019

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 to finance active labour market policies targeting workers who have lost their jobs because of trade adjustment. The fund was subsequently modified in 2009 to cover major structural changes triggered by the economic and financial crisis. The rules of the EGF are laid down in EU Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013, which stipulates that the fund will continue to be financed until 31 December 2020. In May 2018, the European Commission submitted ...

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 to finance active labour market policies targeting workers who have lost their jobs because of trade adjustment. The fund was subsequently modified in 2009 to cover major structural changes triggered by the economic and financial crisis. The rules of the EGF are laid down in EU Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013, which stipulates that the fund will continue to be financed until 31 December 2020. In May 2018, the European Commission submitted a proposal to reform the EGF and maintain it as a special instrument outside the MFF ceiling. The proposal introduces modifications to the eligibility criteria, the co-financing rules and the mobilisation procedure. The report was voted in the EMPL committee on 27 November 2018, and the report is due to be debated in plenary in January 2019, with a view to finalising Parliament's position for trilogue negotiations. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Global and regional trends [What Think Tanks are thinking]

30-11-2018

The European Union’s key institutions held a joint conference on 28-29 November entitled ‘Global trends to 2030: Shaping the future in a fast-changing world’. The annual event was organised under the auspices of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), which is a framework for cooperation between the administrations of the European Parliament, the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European External Action Service and other bodies to work together on medium- and ...

The European Union’s key institutions held a joint conference on 28-29 November entitled ‘Global trends to 2030: Shaping the future in a fast-changing world’. The annual event was organised under the auspices of the European Strategy and Policy Analysis System (ESPAS), which is a framework for cooperation between the administrations of the European Parliament, the European Commission, Council of the European Union, European External Action Service and other bodies to work together on medium- and long-term trends facing or relating to the European Union. This note brings together commentaries, analyses and studies by major international think tanks and research institutes on longer term trends – global and regional, with a focus on Europe. Some reports listed here were presented at the conference, some others can be found in the ESPAS repository of strategic studies, named Orbis.

Brexit and Industry and Space Policy - workshop proceedings

09-11-2018

This document summarises the presentations and discussions of the workshop of “Brexit and Industry and Space Policy”, which was held on 24 September 2018. The effects of Brexit on EU27 business, trade, value chains, innovation and space policy were assessed. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

This document summarises the presentations and discussions of the workshop of “Brexit and Industry and Space Policy”, which was held on 24 September 2018. The effects of Brexit on EU27 business, trade, value chains, innovation and space policy were assessed. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE).

Autorzy zewnętrzni

Bowen CALL, Bruegel Reinhilde VEUGELERS, Bruegel

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