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International Agreements in Progress: The EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) - A framework to promote shared values

22-01-2019

The EU and Japan share the same basic values, including on democracy, market economy, human rights, human dignity, freedom, equality, and the rule of law. Against a background of increasingly assertive neighbours, they are also putting emphasis on security issues. The EU has adopted a Global Strategy placing security and defence as a key strategic priority, and conclusions on 'enhanced EU security cooperation in and with Asia'. Japan has reformed its security policy, aiming at becoming a 'proactive ...

The EU and Japan share the same basic values, including on democracy, market economy, human rights, human dignity, freedom, equality, and the rule of law. Against a background of increasingly assertive neighbours, they are also putting emphasis on security issues. The EU has adopted a Global Strategy placing security and defence as a key strategic priority, and conclusions on 'enhanced EU security cooperation in and with Asia'. Japan has reformed its security policy, aiming at becoming a 'proactive contributor for peace'. In order to enhance their relations, in July 2018 the EU and Japan signed a binding Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) – to come into force following ratfication by all Member States – along with an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), negotiated in parallel. The SPA represents a framework strengthening the overall partnership, by promoting political and sectoral cooperation and joint actions in more than 40 areas of common interest. Once in force, the EU-Japan strategic partnership will become more operational. The agreement will facilitate joint EU-Japan efforts to promote shared values such as human rights and rule of law, a rules-based international system, and peace and stability across the world. It will allow EU-Japan security cooperation to reach its full potential. Second edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification.

State of play of EU-China relations

21-01-2019

EU-China relations are increasingly affected by growing Sino-United States strategic competition. The Trump Administration considers China a strategic competitor to confront, rather than a country with which to engage. The EU, on the contrary, refers to China as a strategic partner and, despite persistent and considerable differences in position in some areas, continues to engage. The United States’ current preference for bi and unilateralism, and withdrawal from multilateral arrangements, which ...

EU-China relations are increasingly affected by growing Sino-United States strategic competition. The Trump Administration considers China a strategic competitor to confront, rather than a country with which to engage. The EU, on the contrary, refers to China as a strategic partner and, despite persistent and considerable differences in position in some areas, continues to engage. The United States’ current preference for bi and unilateralism, and withdrawal from multilateral arrangements, which the EU considers vital elements of a rules-based international order, create openings for China to fill the gap. For the EU, this implies the need to seek issue-based alliances and to strengthen strategic cooperation with China on issues of common interest to reach and uphold multilateral solutions to global and regional challenges. Since 2013, the 2003 EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership has been broadened and deepened in line with the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation. This has led to a high degree of institutionalisation of EU-China ties, with an ever-growing number of dialogue formats that cover political, economic and people-to-people relations, but whose tangible results vary significantly. Notwithstanding the frequency of political exchanges and successful cooperation on key global challenges, such as the nuclear deal with Iran and climate change, the economic pillar has remained the core of the relationship. As China is rapidly climbing the value-added ladder, trade is an area of cooperation where complementarity is shifting fast towards competition. Friction is unavoidable as two fundamentally different economic systems interact, and each side has its own understanding of what 'free' trade, 'fair' trade, 'reciprocity' and a 'level playing field' means. Given the wide diversity of EU Member States' interests and perceptions, which third countries may easily exploit for their own gains, the EU has struggled to come forward with a unified response to China-led initiatives. The European Parliament resolution on the state of play of EU-China relations adopted in September 2018 includes a critical assessment of China's foreign and domestic policies, including human rights, as well as of progress on the implementation of the EU-China strategic partnership.

Outlook for the European Council and Euro Summit, 13-14 December 2018

07-12-2018

EU leaders’ discussions will mainly focus on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the single market and migration. EU leaders will hold their first substantial exchange of views on the 2021-2027 MFF, debating its political priorities, the overall level of expenditure and the timetable for the MFF negotiations. On migration and the single market, the European Council will review the implementation and state of play of its previous orientations. Other items to be addressed include the ...

EU leaders’ discussions will mainly focus on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the single market and migration. EU leaders will hold their first substantial exchange of views on the 2021-2027 MFF, debating its political priorities, the overall level of expenditure and the timetable for the MFF negotiations. On migration and the single market, the European Council will review the implementation and state of play of its previous orientations. Other items to be addressed include the challenge of disinformation, the fight against racism and xenophobia and climate change, as well as external relations, in particular the preparation of the EU-Arab summit on 24-25 February 2019. They will also be informed on preparations for the 2019-202 4Strategic Agenda. The Euro Summit is expected to discuss the reform of European Monetary Union as well as the taxation of digital companies.

Research for PECH Committee - Fisheries in Vietnam

30-11-2018

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia on the eastern Indochina Peninsula, with a population just over 93.6 million, it is the eighth-most-populous Asian country. There are four main fishing areas in Vietnam: the Gulf of Tonkin, shared with China; the Central area; the South-eastern area; and the South-western area (part of the Gulf of Thailand), shared with Cambodia and Thailand. According to the 2016 report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Vietnam is the third ...

Vietnam is located in Southeast Asia on the eastern Indochina Peninsula, with a population just over 93.6 million, it is the eighth-most-populous Asian country. There are four main fishing areas in Vietnam: the Gulf of Tonkin, shared with China; the Central area; the South-eastern area; and the South-western area (part of the Gulf of Thailand), shared with Cambodia and Thailand. According to the 2016 report of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), Vietnam is the third largest seafood exporter worldwide after China and Norway before Thailand and India.

EU support for human rights defenders around the world

08-11-2018

Twenty years after the UN General Assembly adopted its Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to enhance recognition of their role and encourage states to create a more protective environment, many human rights defenders still face significant threats, and the situation of those working in certain areas has even deteriorated. Support for human rights defenders is a long established component of the EU's external human rights policy and one of its major priorities. The EU guidelines on HRDs ...

Twenty years after the UN General Assembly adopted its Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) to enhance recognition of their role and encourage states to create a more protective environment, many human rights defenders still face significant threats, and the situation of those working in certain areas has even deteriorated. Support for human rights defenders is a long established component of the EU's external human rights policy and one of its major priorities. The EU guidelines on HRDs adopted in 2004 outline concrete measures for protecting HRDs at risk, including the provision of emergency aid, and encourage EU diplomats to take a more proactive approach towards HRDs. The European Commission manages a financial instrument in support of HRDs working in the world's most dangerous situations. The European Parliament is a long-standing advocate of a comprehensive EU policy on HRDs and has actively contributed to its shaping. Its urgency resolutions on human rights breaches around the world, some of which have focused on individual HRDs and the particular threats they face, have drawn attention to the difficulties facing HRDs in many countries. Parliament has also organised hearings with HRDs, issued statements about cases of HRDs at risk, and highlighted the plight of HRDs during visits by its delegations to the countries concerned. The Parliament's Sakharov Prize is the EU's most visible action in favour of HRDs. It has a significant impact on laureates, providing them with recognition and, in many cases, indirect protection. This a further updated version of a briefing from December 2017: PE 614.626.

Future EU-Turkey relations

23-10-2018

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With ...

In June 2018, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was re-elected as president of Turkey, this time with extended powers under the revised Turkish Constitution. Over the previous couple of years, his country's relationship with the EU had been challenged by issues such as the ongoing management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey Agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the ensuing purge, which the EU and international organisations criticised for its disproportionate severity. With the constitutional referendum and the subsequent parliamentary and presidential elections, President Erdogan further reinforced his position at the helm of the institutional system and raised concerns among the EU and NATO about his commitment to Western institutions. Turkey deepened its relations with Russia, buying military equipment and coordinating with it on Syrian policies on the ground. At the same time, US-Turkish relations worsened due to the Syrian conflict and the imprisonment of a US pastor by Turkey, although he was subsequently released. Negotiations on Turkey's accession to the EU have nevertheless continued, despite an increasingly lively debate in some Member States about whether or not they should be halted. Some have proposed striking an economic agreement with Turkey as an alternative to membership. Others believe the outcome of the negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU might also provide a possible model for Turkey. Despite the numerous hurdles before it, accession not only remains the ultimate objective of EU-Turkey relations, endorsed by both the European Council and by Turkey, but it also provides potential for reform and dialogue regarding common standards, not least in the area of civil liberties.

Brazil ahead of the 2018 elections

05-10-2018

On 7 October 2018, about 147 million Brazilians will go to the polls to choose a new president, new governors and new members of the bicameral National Congress and state legislatures. If, as expected, none of the presidential candidates gains over 50 % of votes, a run-off between the two best-performing presidential candidates is scheduled to take place on 28 October 2018. Brazil's severe and protracted political, economic, social and public-security crisis has created a complex and polarised political ...

On 7 October 2018, about 147 million Brazilians will go to the polls to choose a new president, new governors and new members of the bicameral National Congress and state legislatures. If, as expected, none of the presidential candidates gains over 50 % of votes, a run-off between the two best-performing presidential candidates is scheduled to take place on 28 October 2018. Brazil's severe and protracted political, economic, social and public-security crisis has created a complex and polarised political climate that makes the election outcome highly unpredictable. Pollsters show that voters have lost faith in a discredited political elite and that only anti-establishment outsiders not embroiled in large-scale corruption scandals and entrenched clientelism would truly match voters' preferences. However, there is a huge gap between voters' strong demand for a radical political renewal based on new faces, and the dramatic shortage of political newcomers among the candidates. Voters' disillusionment with conventional politics and political institutions has fuelled nostalgic preferences and is likely to prompt part of the electorate to shift away from centrist candidates associated with policy continuity to candidates at the opposite sides of the party spectrum. Many less well-off voters would have welcomed a return to office of former left-wing President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who due to a then booming economy, could run social programmes that lifted millions out of extreme poverty and who, barred by Brazil's judiciary from running in 2018, has tried to transfer his high popularity to his much less-known replacement. Another part of the electorate, appalled by growing public-security issues and endemic corruption, but also disappointed with democracy more broadly, appears to be strongly attracted by the simple and unconventional answers to complex challenges posed by far-right populist rhetoric. The latter – worryingly – glorifies Brazil's dictatorship (1964-1985). As candidates with unorthodox political approaches appear to be an emerging norm, Brazilians may opt for a populist turn as well. If so, EU-Brazil relations may become more complex in the future.

European Union – Council of Europe cooperation and joint programmes

28-09-2018

The Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) are to a significant extent based on shared values, and have overlapping membership. This has led them over time to develop a strategic partnership and joint actions beyond the EU's and, more recently, the CoE's borders, making use of the latter's longstanding technical expertise on human rights, the rule of law and democracy. For the EU, the CoE convention system and the European Court of Human Rights remain central instruments for defending ...

The Council of Europe (CoE) and the European Union (EU) are to a significant extent based on shared values, and have overlapping membership. This has led them over time to develop a strategic partnership and joint actions beyond the EU's and, more recently, the CoE's borders, making use of the latter's longstanding technical expertise on human rights, the rule of law and democracy. For the EU, the CoE convention system and the European Court of Human Rights remain central instruments for defending human rights in Europe, as stated in the EU's 2017 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World. The relationship between the CoE and the EU is generally seen as mutually beneficial and thriving, each partner contributing according to its own strengths and capabilities. In 2011 the CoE launched a new approach towards the EU's neighbourhood regions, endorsed by the EU. Cooperation has become more structured, with the Council of the EU agreeing and adopting the EU's priorities for cooperation with the Council of Europe on a biannual basis, in cooperation with the CoE. The EU-CoE relationship has not escaped some criticism, however, namely that the CoE acts as a political consultancy or a junior partner to the EU owing to the latter's budgetary clout and its disproportionate and larger contribution to joint activities. There is arguably room to improve the partnership. According to some, the EU countries (which are all CoE members) need to develop a strategic and long-term vision regarding future cooperation with the CoE.

Zimbabwe's post-electoral challenges

13-09-2018

As international isolation is no longer economically bearable, Zimbabwe has been searching for legitimacy on the global stage. The post-Mugabe transition government, from a ruling party fraction, committed itself to free and fair elections and invited international observers for first time in 16 years. But much-awaited change in Zimbabwe needs much more than a newly elected president and legislature. The country suffers from institutional dysfunction driven by years of a de facto one-party, military-backed ...

As international isolation is no longer economically bearable, Zimbabwe has been searching for legitimacy on the global stage. The post-Mugabe transition government, from a ruling party fraction, committed itself to free and fair elections and invited international observers for first time in 16 years. But much-awaited change in Zimbabwe needs much more than a newly elected president and legislature. The country suffers from institutional dysfunction driven by years of a de facto one-party, military-backed regime, characterised by rampant corruption and systematic patronage, securing the capture of key economic areas and political institutions by party elites. The victory of the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), in both the legislative and presidential elections, and the deadly crackdown on the opposition that followed, seriously undermine the prospects for genuine Zimbabwean democracy. Although international observers assessed the electoral process as relatively free and competitive, it took place on an uneven playing field due to years of ZANU-PF domination. EU observers, in particular, expressed strong concern regarding the intimidation of voters, the pro-state bias of the media, and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission's (ZEC) lack of transparency. Some observers have indeed warned that the ousting of Robert Mugabe, which had raised so many hopes, was just part of a power reshuffle inside Zimbabwe's authoritarian regime, meant to protect the interests of the governing elites. Indeed, powerful forces obstruct change in Zimbabwe, seeking the sole preservation of their economic interests in the renewed political context. It is likely that the newly-elected President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, will pursue some economic reform, especially to attract foreign investors, while maintaining political control from above. In this situation, the EU, having declared its readiness to fully re-engage with Zimbabwe, has to use every lever to induce structural changes and to support civil society in this deeply corrupt and dysfunctional state.

Water in Central Asia: An increasingly scarce resource

12-09-2018

While it is rich in fossil fuels and minerals, Central Asia is poor in water. However, water plays a key role in the economies of the five Central Asian countries. In mountainous Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, hydroelectricity is already a vital energy resource; new dams could also make it a major export revenue earner. Downstream, river water irrigates the cotton fields of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Heavy water use, particularly in agriculture, is putting water supplies under pressure. Central Asian ...

While it is rich in fossil fuels and minerals, Central Asia is poor in water. However, water plays a key role in the economies of the five Central Asian countries. In mountainous Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, hydroelectricity is already a vital energy resource; new dams could also make it a major export revenue earner. Downstream, river water irrigates the cotton fields of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Heavy water use, particularly in agriculture, is putting water supplies under pressure. Central Asian countries have to share limited resources fairly, while balancing the needs of upstream hydroelectricity generation and downstream agriculture. For this reason, cooperation is vital. However, competition for water has often been a source of tensions, particularly between Uzbekistan and its upstream neighbours. The situation has improved recently, now that Uzbekistan's new president has taken a more constructive approach to resolving these regional water-related problems. Water use also has many environmental implications. Soviet engineers succeeded in turning deserts into fertile farmland, but at the expense of the Aral Sea, a formerly huge inland lake that has all but dried up. Intensive agriculture is also polluting the region's rivers and soils. Leaky irrigation infrastructure and unsustainable greening projects are wasting huge amounts of water. In future, more efficient water use and closer cooperation will become increasingly necessary, as population growth and climate change pile pressure on the region's scarce water resources. The EU has made water one of the main priorities of its development aid for the region. Among other things, EU funding supports regional cooperation and improvements to water infrastructure.

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