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EU-Japan Agreement: Good News on the Long Road to a Deal

Image courtesy of MMMescalino/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 14 July 2017.

For the EU, the EPA would demonstrate its ability to deliver concrete results despite the numerous crises it faces. 

Last week the EU and Japan announced an ‘agreement in principle’ after four years of talks on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the two economic giants. Yet the reaction to this news has not befitted a mega-trade agreement covering over 30% of world GDP and 40% of global trade. This is partly because news emanating from Washington dominates the headlines, but mostly because there is still a long way to go, with the two parties to the agreement bracing themselves for a set of difficult negotiations to finalize the deal.

The agreement in principle means that the chances of the deal falling through are slim, as long as talks are kept at the same level of political priority that made last week’s announcement possible. If agreed, the deal would mark a historic shift in the quality of economic and political relations between the two partners, with far-reaching consequences for third parties as well.

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The Impact of Brexit on the EU’s International Agreements

 EU flat with one star missing

Courtesy freestocks.org/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) on 15 July 2016.

The prospect of Brexit has kicked up a lot of dust around the now famous Article 50 TEU withdrawal procedure, and the form, scope and sequence of the ‘divorce’ and future framework agreements between the EU and the UK.[1] One issue that has received far less attention is whether the international agreements concluded by the EU will continue to apply to the UK after Brexit, and if so, how.

The EU has concluded 1,139 bilateral and multilateral agreements with third parties, ranging from trade, development and sectoral economic issues like aviation, energy and fisheries, to matters related to visa, human rights, and the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).[2] For those accords that fall squarely within the realm of the EU’s exclusive competences (e.g. classic free trade agreements) there is in principle no discussion: thanks to its single international legal personality, the EU and the third parties are the sole signatories to the agreements and will remain bound by them. A simple notification by the EU to the third parties might thus suffice to inform them that the EU no longer consists of 28 but 27 member states.

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The TTIP – an Ambitious Step Forward but Not an “Economic NATO”

Container Ship MSC Texas

Container Ship. Photo: Daniel Ramirez/flickr.

Is an “economic NATO” possible? This striking – and perhaps misleading – expression has been used by some commentators to convey a possible outcome of negotiations between the United States and European Union over the creation of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The origins of this proposed partnership date back to November 2011, when a joint High Level Working Group (HLWG) on Jobs and Growth began discussing shared priorities. The HLWG delivered its final report in February 2013, and highlighted a range of options for expanding transatlantic trade and investment. Brussels and Washington are expected to give the green light for negotiations shortly, with talks possibly starting before the summer recess.

It remains unlikely that negotiations will result in a “fortress scenario” in which the US and EU mutually protect themselves from rising economic powers. What can be anticipated, however, is that the TTIP will have significant consequences for global economic security, irrespective of its final shape and structure. » More

How to Make Trade Easier

WTO Ministerial Conference 2011

WTO Ministerial Conference 2011. Photo: World Trade Organization/flickr.

WASHINGTON, DC – The world is now in the fourth year of the Great Recession. So far, the economies belonging to the World Trade Organization have resisted the kind of widespread protectionism that would make a bad situation much worse. But protectionist pressures are building as weary politicians hear more and more calls for economic nationalism.

The WTO’s best defense of open trade is a good offense. A new WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement would benefit all by increasing developing countries’ capacity to trade, strengthening the WTO’s development mandate, and boosting global economic growth. More than a decade after the launch of the Doha Round of global free-trade talks, this agreement could be a down payment on the commitment that WTO members have made to linking trade and development. » More

ACTA: Secret Anti-Piracy Negotiations Unveiled

Piracy graffiti in Sweden (cc Thobias Vemmenby)

Piracy graffiti in Sweden (cc Thobias Vemmenby)

It seems like ACTA negotiators have finally gone one step in the direction of transparency. After a week of negotiations in Wellington (NZ), they announced on Friday that the draft treaty would be made public next Wednesday. Or maybe they just learned their lesson after repeated leaks.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been in the making for over two years behind closed doors. The new treaty aims to improve “global standards for the enforcement of [Intellectual Property Law], to more effectively combat trade in counterfeit and pirated goods,” according to the EU Commission.

As you might expect, the negotiating parties are a western club (US, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the EU and Switzerland) with a few ‘like-minded’ friends (Singapore, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco).

ACTA has faced a storm of criticism from internet users. Here is a little summary of the main issues at stake: » More