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  • Author: Danièle Hervieu-Léger
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The European Union is one of the main promoters of free trade agreements (FTAs). This position is not new: since the mid-2000s, and even more so in the decade now ending, the Commission, supported by the Council and the European Parliament, has constantly sought to negotiate and conclude new trade agreements. This strategy has paid off. In 2018, almost a third of trade between Europe and the rest of the world was covered by the preferential provisions of an FTA, a figure that is expected to increase significantly in 2020, following the entry into force of the agreement with Vietnam, and to rise in the coming years to more than 40% if the agreements currently being negotiated with Mercosur, the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and possibly the United Kingdom come into force.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, European Union, Free Trade, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Christian Lequesne
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on 31 January 2020 following the signing of the exit agreement. This departure went hand in hand with the opening of a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which the rules of the internal market continue to govern relations between the two sides. However, negotiations have not yet been completed, since the framework for the future relationship between the United Kingdom – which has now become a third country – and the 27 Member States of the European Union has yet to be established. The joint political declaration of 30 January 2020 accompanying the exit Agreement provides for : "an ambitious, broad, deep, flexible partnership in trade and economic cooperation – with a comprehensive and balanced free trade agreement at its centre –, law enforcement and criminal justice, foreign, security and defence policy, as well as broader areas of cooperation"[1]. Initiated in February 2020 the negotiations on the future Agreement have been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic. The 27 Member States decided that the defence of their positions would, as with the exit Agreement, be entrusted to the European Commission represented by a single negotiator, the Frenchman Michel Barnier. On the British side, former diplomat, David Frost, is in charge of defending the positions of the British government led by Boris Johnson, however the former will be called to another post as Government Adviser for National Security from September 2020. Although face-to-face negotiations resumed in Brussels at the end of June 2020, in substance they have made very modest progress. Hence a legitimate question: can an agreement on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union be reached by 31 December 2020, while Boris Johnson's government has refused to make use of the possibility offered of extending the transition period and thus the negotiations until 30 June 2020? Is there a risk of ending the year 2020 without a no deal and to have economic relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union governed by the common law of the World Trade Organisation?
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, European Union, Trade
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Ekaterina Pierson-Lyzhina
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The protests against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, which have continued beyond the August 9 presidential election, have been surprising in terms of their scale and level of politicization. The protest promises to be long-lasting bringing together people of all ages and professions, but the authorities are refusing to recognize it and are not satisfying any of its demands: to organize new this time democratic elections, to stop repression, to release detainees and political prisoners, to investigate crimes committed by the representatives of law enforcement agencies. Quite the opposite is happening: the crackdown orchestrated by Lukashenka’s regime, after a certain lull between August 12 and 16, is intensifying with hundreds of arrests per day, the repression against the emerging leaders and journalists (from the private media) who report the facts. What are the scenarios of the development of this crisis which seems to have reached an impasse? Can Belarus emerge from it without resorting to foreign mediation? What role could the European Union play?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Authoritarianism, Protests
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Belarus
  • Author: Bernard Bourget
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will enter the next decade relieved by Brexit of its fiercest opponent but weakened by the external pressures to which it has been subjected, and disrupted by the enlargement of the European Union. In the 2020s, it will have to take full account, in conjunction with the European Commission's Green Deal, of the environmental and climate issues that are so important for agriculture. It will also have to improve the management of climate, health and market risks, which global warming could aggravate, and strengthen the negotiating capacity of producer organisations with their powerful buyers in the food industry and supermarkets. Budgetary pressure may lead the European Union to distribute direct payments, (which account for three quarters of CAP expenditure), more fairly by placing the burden rather more on large farms, in order to spare the medium-sized family farms, which are still numerous in the western part of the continent. Finally, the CAP should be coordinated with other European policies, particularly trade policy.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Budget, European Union, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Admiral Jean Casabianca
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: Looking back at my military career, during which I sailed and battled above and below so many oceans, I am struck by the duality of the Mediterranean Sea. It is indeed for me as well a familiar environment as an area of perpetual uncertainty, which contributed to define me as a man, a sailor and a military leader. Predicators say that the Mediterranean, stage of the first major clashes between civilizations, will not be anymore the international centre of gravity and that the Pacific Ocean will take over this role. It remains however a major hub for the interactions of key strategic competitors.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Affairs, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Mediterranean
  • Author: Yves Bertoncini
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: Now more than ever, the fight against coronavirus encourages an analysis of the foundations and limits of solidarity between the Member States of the European Union, just as the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, often cited for its call for "concrete achievements that first create a de facto solidarity".
  • Topic: Development, European Union, Solidarity, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Blaise Wilfert
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: While the Covid-19 pandemic is unfolding in all its violence, "globalisation", to read more than one, is said to be the great culprit for what is happening to us, whether it has been the lightning speed of the virus' spread, the impotence of States to stop its progression, the inability of "capitalism" to produce medical equipment or the madness of stock market speculation. The logical consequence of this has been the repeated call, with some pathos, urgently to invent the time “after”, after the follies of globalisation. The magnitude of the shock that Covid-19 represents provides an ideal sounding board to replay a tune that is in fact an old one, familiar to us since the 1990s at least, or even the 1980s, but with an incomparable and therefore particularly disturbing echo. Defined both as liberalization - the triumph of the borderless market economy - and as planetarisation - the unification of the planet through flows of all kinds, information, migrants, ideas and representations, tourists, religious practices - globalisation is said to have become a form of disease fatal to the world. Hence to deglobalise[ 1]. Yet, it has to be said again, more than twenty years after Paul Krugman, globalisation is not to blame, and those who currently claim the opposite, with a communicative passion, pretending to draw conclusions from a lucid analysis of the recent past, rely on biased historical narratives to impose a political agenda, whether explicit or implicit. So, let a historian try to say a word about it, since understanding the times we are in requires understanding the times from whence we have come.
  • Topic: Globalization, Markets, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gérard Pogorel, Augusto Preta
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is tragically affecting our societies worldwide. As we are forced under these extraordinary circumstances to spend more time indoors, severely limiting our movements and journeys, telecommunications networks, communications services and the media are standing in to play a major role in economic and social resilience. They are providing the required tools for a transformed virtual workplace; making entertainment at home possible, at a time when theatres, and sports venues are at a standstill. More than ever before, the transformative nature of digital innovation in the media and telecommunications industries is moving along with the way we are living and working today.
  • Topic: International Relations, Communications, Media, Transatlantic Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Pierre Mirel, Xavier Mirel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Robert Schuman Foundation (RSF)
  • Abstract: “What we do at home will affect our place in the world and shape relationships with our strategic partners and competitors. That is why we must be a Geopolitical Commission”. To achieve this, "the internal and external dimensions of our work should be harmonised (...) to ensure that our external action becomes more strategic and coherent". This is the essence of the mission entrusted by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, on 10 September 2019, to Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, European Union, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Sonali Chowdhry, Gabriel Felbermayr
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: The US–China Economic and Trade Agreement (ETA) entered into force on 14th February 2020, marking a new phase in their protracted trade and geopolitical rivalry. The ETA includes specific targets for increased Chinese imports of US goods and services, amounting to 200 bn USD over 2020 and 2021. The authors show that these purchase commitments can generate substantial trade diversion effects and market share shifts for China’s top trading partners. In manufacturing, Germany is likely to experience the greatest trade diversion effects in a number of industries such as vehicles (-1.28 bn USD), aircraft (-1.59 bn USD) and industrial machinery (-0.72 bn USD). Moreover, developing countries will be hit if China re-directs its imports towards US suppliers. E.g. Brazil could experience a reduction of 4.95 bn USD in soybeans exports to China in 2021 as a result of the ETA.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Exports, Trade, Trade Policy, Imports
  • Political Geography: United States, China