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  • Author: Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Regulations are an indispensable part of an economy and are proven to generate a significant impact on the economic, environment and social landscape. Through an extensive survey of literature and empirical study, the paper contrasts the benefits and costs arising in the light of the imposition of ex ante regulations of attempting to regulate a market sector, before a market failure has even occurred. It diverges from the norm of regulating ex-post, i.e. addressing market failures as they arise, which is the case in most modern open economies. The study highlights the economic impacts of shifting from ex post to ex ante in the online services sector as stipulated by the proposals for the Digital Services Act. It estimates a loss of about 85 billion EUR in GDP and 101 billion EUR in lost consumer welfare, due to a reduction in productivity, after accounting for other control variables. These costs are equivalent to losing all the gains that the EU has achieved to date from all its bilateral free trade agreements; or losing the contribution of passenger cars to the EU trade balance with the rest of the world. In the context of the pandemic-induced economic contraction, the GDP loss is equivalent to one-quarter of EU current account surplus projected for 2020. The extraordinarily high costs and rarity of ex ante rules warrant a discussion on the true objectives of the Digital Services Act. It is unclear which market failures it is envisaged to address – or how these failures can be so critical for the well-being for the European citizens, yet so irreparable and impossible to remedy ex post.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, International Political Economy, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Social Policy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Florian Forsthuber, Oscar Guinea
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: A new consensus is growing across the European Union – and other parts of the world too: that globalization has gone too far. The argument goes as follows: as an exchange for higher efficiency and lower prices, Europe has sacrificed its ability to take care of itself and protect its own citizens. The Covid-19 crisis has revealed how much Europe depends on the rest of the world for products like medical goods and medicines. Therefore, if Europe does not want to live through another shortage of essential supplies, the lesson of the Covid-19 crisis is that the EU has to produce these products itself. This conclusion may sound intuitive but it is fundamentally wrong. Europe is not overly dependent on the rest of the world because most trade in the EU is done within its own borders. New evidence presented in this paper shows that there were only 112 products, making just 1.2% of the value of EU total imports, for which the four largest suppliers were non-EU countries as compared to more than two thousand products for which the four largest suppliers were from EU member states. And while not every product is equally important in the face of a global pandemic, there is not a single Covid-19 related good for which all EU imports only came from non-EU countries. This paper debunks the idea that the EU is too reliant on other countries. Instead, our analysis shows that imports from the rest of the world make every EU member state more resilient by diversifying its sources of supply. Because of their geographical location and economic integration, if there was to be a shock like a pandemic, a plague, or a nuclear disaster, groups of EU countries are likely to be hit simultaneously. Having sources of supply outside the EU is therefore critical to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to these shocks. Europe’s recent experience has shown that international trade is a strength, not a weakness, and the EU was blessed to be able to tap into the manufacturing capacity of the rest of the world to buy urgently needed medical goods from abroad during the hardest months of the pandemic. Preparing for future crisis like Covid-19 is extremely complex. Nobody knows which type of shock will come after Covid-19, which economic activities will be impacted, or what kind of goods will be needed to protect our citizens. Yet, any debate about the merits of re-shoring should be based on figures and not on narratives. This paper analyzes EU imports on more than 9,000 products and concludes that Europe should not build its resilience by the mandatory re-shoring of economic activities. That is the opposite of diversification. Besides, re-shoring will increase costs and hit citizens in the poorest countries the hardest. An economy that is served by multiple firms across multiple locations is more resilient to random shocks than one where goods are produced by fewer firms in the same location. While re-shoring may bring the illusion of control, in reality, the EU will be more vulnerable and dependent on fewer and larger companies. This is why globalization and the EU’s reliance on the rest of the world is what makes the EU more resilient.
  • Topic: Globalization, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Frank Lavin, Oscar Guinea
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: We are at the moment, the first in seventy-five years, where there is no international consensus in support of trade. Indeed, trade is unloved, unsupported, and even unwanted. There is no shortage of topics in the rhetoric of trade complaints: from the rapid rise of China to Coronavirus as a metaphor for the evils of greater connectivity. Regardless of the validity of these complaints, none of them negate the central truth of trade: countries that engage in trade move ahead, and those that do not, stagnate. Our political leaders disagree. Anti-trade positions are held by leaders across the political spectrum, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. And yet, the public is increasingly warm to the idea of trade. When Gallup asks Americans, “Do you see foreign trade more as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports or a threat to the economy from foreign imports?” a record high of 79% see trade as an opportunity, with 18% viewing it as a threat. How did the world arrive at this moment where the benefits of trade are clearly evidenced while trade has become politically toxic? We identify four main factors: (i) U.S. absenteeism from the leadership role; (ii) detachment between trade and security architecture; (iii) no alternative leadership in Europe or elsewhere; and (iv) the cumbersome WTO process. Against this background we put forward five initiatives that will be big enough to count but unobjectionable enough to be adopted. The Big Three. The U.S., EU, and Japan, should establish a consultative body on trade to forge a new approach that allows trade to move ahead in the absence of universal consensus. No harm, no foul. Each of the Big Three should commit to zero tariffs on any item not produced in each particular market. A de minimis strategy. Tariffs should be eliminated on all products where the current tariff is less than 2%. At that level tariffs are simply a nuisance fee. Mind the social costs. Expand the Nairobi Protocols to include health products and green tech. Scrapping import tariffs on medical and green goods would not only encourage additional trade but will also provide health and environmental benefits. Harmonize down. The Big Three should commit that on every tariff line each of the three will be no worse than the next worse. In other words, each of the Big Three will agree to reduce its tariff on every product where it has the highest tariff of the three. These actions will spur the WTO, not undermine it. The measures we propose can be set up on a plurilateral basis that would allow other trading powers to participate. By breaking away from the tyranny of universal consensus, these actions will encourage the trading community – including the WTO – to get back in forward motion. In some respect, convergence between the Big Three is already happening. The EU and Japan signed an FTA that lowers import tariffs between these two economies, while the U.S. and Japan agreed to negotiate a comprehensive FTA. And if China is willing to step up? China should be welcomed into this group if it supports the four initiatives, changing the Big Three to the Big Four.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Trade, WTO
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Fredrik Erixon, Matthias Bauer
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Covid-19 and its broader implications have highlighted the importance of Europe’s digital transformation to ensure Europeans’ social and economic well-being. It provides important new learnings about Europe’s quest for “technology sovereignty”. While the debate about technology sovereignty is timely, the precise meaning of sovereignty or autonomy in the realm of technologies remains ambiguous. It should be noted that the political discussions about European technology sovereignty emerged far before the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The European Commission’s recently updated industrial and digital policy strategies “institutionalised” different notions of sovereignty, reflecting perceptions that more EU action is needed to defend perceived European values and to secure Europe’s industrial competitiveness. Often the political rhetoric reflected perceptions that Europe is losing global economic clout and geopolitical influence. It was said that dependency on technological solutions, often originating abroad, would require a European industrial and regulatory response. Against this background, the Corona crisis provides two important lessons for EU technology policymaking. Firstly, during the crisis digital technologies and solutions made European citizens stronger. Technology kept Europe open for business despite the lock-down by enabling Europeans to work from home, receive essential home deliveries, home schooling, online deliveries and to use online payments, etc. In addition, Europe’s citizens became more sovereign with respect to accessing information and data that helped track and contain the spread of the virus. Secondly, the crisis tested Europe’s resilience and perceived dependency on (foreign) technology solutions. Early developments indicate that Member States’ homemade solutions did not fare better than existing European and international solutions. A few national and EU IT solutions failed while existing European and global solutions, from cloud infrastructure to communications, payments to streaming services, all continued to work well. Politically, however, the crisis could be used to justify more EU or national government interference in Europe’s digital transformation. Indeed, for some the debate about European technology sovereignty is largely about designing prescriptive policies, which paradoxically risk reducing Europeans’ access to the innovative technologies, products and services that helped Europe through the crisis. Policies taken into consideration include new subsidies to politically picked companies, or new rules and obligations for certain online business models. Policy-makers advocating for such policies tend to ignore critical insights from the Covid-19 crisis and failed industrial policy initiatives, including sunk public investments and protracted subsidies for industrial laggards. In a time of economic hardship, the EU and national governments should be wary of spending even more taxpayer money to replicate existing world-class technology solutions, that in most cases are used in combination with local technologies, with “Made in EU” services of inferior quality and reliability. Moreover, due to different levels of economic development and differences in regulatory cultures, prescriptive technology policies would exclude many Member States from utilising existing and new opportunities that arise from digitalisation, slowing down economic renewal and convergence. The EU cannot be considered a monolithic block that thrives on a unique set of prescriptive technology policies. Before the Corona pandemic, initiatives towards European technology sovereignty were mainly pushed by France and Germany, fed by concerns over their companies’ industrial strength in times of growing economic and geopolitical competition. Industrial and technology policies favoured by the EU’s two largest countries will have a disproportionately negative impact on Europe’s smaller open economies, whose companies and citizens could be deprived from cutting-edge technologies, new economic opportunities and partnerships on global markets, undermining these economies’ development and international competitiveness. Any EU-imposed technology protectionism along the lines suggested by some policy-makers in large EU Member States would leave the entire EU worse off. It would disproportionately hurt countries in Europe’s northern, eastern and southern countries more than the large countries whose economies are generally more diverse than Europe’s smaller Member States. It would, however, make sense for the EU to agree on a shared definition of “technology sovereignty”. Different interpretations could cause serious policy inconsistencies, undermining the effectiveness of EU and national economic policies. Anchored in technological openness, technology sovereignty can indeed be a useful ambition to let Europe’s highly diverse economies leapfrog by using existing technologies. To become more sovereign in a global economy, Europeans need to focus on becoming global leaders in economic innovation – not just in regulation. If anchored in mercantilist or protectionist ideas, technological sovereignty would make it harder for many Member States to access modern technologies, adopt new business models and attract foreign investment – with adverse implications on future global competitiveness, economic renewal and economic convergence. Policymaking towards a European technology sovereignty that benefits the greatest number of Europeans – not just a few politically selected “winners” – should aim for a regulatory environment in which technology companies and technology adopters can thrive across EU Member States’ national borders. The European Single Market has deteriorated in recent years and significantly during the crisis. The new von der Leyen Commission has now repeatedly called for a strengthening of the Single Market. Becoming a world leader in innovation requires a real Single Market in which companies can scale up, with as few hurdles as possible, and then compete globally. It should be supplemented by pro-competitive policies and incentives for research and investment. Brussels cannot set the global standards in technology policymaking alone. Europe’s policy-makers should aim for closer market integration and regulatory cooperation with trustworthy international partners such as the G7 or the larger group of the OECD countries. It is in the EU’s self-interest to advocate for a rules-based international order with open markets. International cooperation should be extended beyond trade to include cooperation on technology policies, e.g. artificial intelligence. Regulatory cooperation with allies such as the USA is essential to jointly set global standards that are based on shared values. Both the EU and the US have much more to gain if they prioritise such alignment, to advance a shared vision for a revamped open international trading system, in a world increasingly influenced by regimes with fundamentally different views on state intervention and human rights. Anchored in technological openness, the EU and the US can promote technology sovereignty that allows for development and renewal elsewhere in the world.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, Science and Technology, Sovereignty, European Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Philipp Lamprecht, Fredrik Erixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: There is now a long history of countries improving sustainability standards in most parts of the economy while at the same time pursuing the ambitions of rules-based international trade and economic integration with other countries. It is not surprising that countries at the vanguard of sustainability also tend to be the countries that are most open to trade. This Report looks closer at the interplay between the formulation of domestic standards and provisions in Free Trade Agreements that either acknowledge domestic standards or establish standards in a direct way. This interplay is crucial for two reasons: first to establish market access arrangements that help to promote sustainability standards, second to provide the policy basis to make standards and possible market access restrictions conducive to basic trade rules. It lays a focus particularly on the growing importance of sustainability standards in international trade agreements, or Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) – in particular for the food sector. Such standards are relevant for all new high-ambition Free Trade Agreements – from the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between eleven trans-pacific nations. The Report considers especially nine modern FTAs. The purpose of the Report is to investigate how governments with high sustainability ambitions approach the issue of trade and sustainability – in particular how they work with, on the one hand, specific provisions in FTAs and, on the other hand, the development of domestic standards and their linkage to trade. The Report also looks directly at how these standards are designed, and what lessons that can be learned for governments that want to raise sustainability ambitions. It puts the results of the analysis in the context of Norwegian ambitions to improve its sustainability standards for food placed on the Norwegian market. The analysis of how trade and sustainability have been made compatible starts with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These rules are important in their own right, but they also carry political significance. WTO-rules form the basis of the bilateral free trade agreements that countries sign with each other – and that now make up the main plank of international trade negotiations. In the language of the WTO, basic trade rules serve to protect the principles of national treatment and non-discrimination. Sustainability policies that are grounded on solid evidence and that follow international scientific norms will be compatible with WTO rules. Sustainability policies that confer advantages to domestic producers or that are arbitrary will get a harsh treatment. Consequently, the bilateral free trade deals that the European Union or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) have concluded with other parts of the world are not just compatible with WTO rules, they rely on these rules as the foundation stone. Moreover, these rules inform governments how they should organise their sustainability policy if they also want the opportunity to take part in modern trade agreements. If countries aren’t willing to play by these rules, they should also accept that they won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of trade agreements. What member countries of the WTO have agreed in past multilateral trade accords are not a blockage of sustainability policy, but they bar countries from pursuing such policies in a way that would lead to unequal application of trade rules – between home and foreign producers, or between different foreign producers. In addition, it is of interest – also to the Norwegian policy discussion – to consider how EU policies are likely to change in the forceable future. The analysis provides a discussion of issues that are likely to remain very high on the agenda of the next European Commission. These include possible improvements in the TSD Chapters of trade agreements in particular with regard to enforcement mechanisms, the engagement of civil society, and climate action. Further policy highlights include a possible introduction of a carbon border tax, as well as the discussions related to due diligence of supply chains, and multilateralism. In terms of conclusions, the Report identifies four main observations that should inform future policy development in Norway: First, there is clearly a case to be made for aligning Norwegian trade policy to EU trade policy when it comes to provisions on trade and sustainability in Free Trade Agreements. Second, there is a substantial body of scientific evidence, risk assessments and international experience of standards in areas that are related to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards and to environmental standards which any government that want to raise sustainability standards can draw on. Third, many countries struggle to formulate their domestic sustainability standards in a structured way. Arguably, this is a critical point for governments that are considering to introduce higher standards with consequence for market access for foreign producers. To avoid confusion or accusation of standards being a disguised trade restrictions, countries like Norway would have to structure and systematise its standards if the ambitions were to be raised and formed part of market access policy. A first step for a policy that seeks to condition import on the compliance with a stand is to make the standard clear and explicit. Fourth, there are direct and indirect relations between domestic standards and provisions in FTAs. FTAs often deal with policies that cannot be directly formulated in a domestic standard, like some aspects of labour laws. They also deal with other forms of standards that need policy convergence in order to guarantee smooth trade between the contracting parties. Generally, it cannot be said that the EU or other entities use FTAs to “regulate” or to establish the standard. That rather happens bottom-up – through domestic regulations that later get reflected in trade agreements.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Partnerships, Global Markets, Free Trade, Trade, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Plamen Pantev
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)
  • Abstract: 70 years ago Bulgaria and the Peope’s Republic of China (PRC) established diplomatic relations. As a small country we are proud to be among the first that recognized the new great state and to have a record of long and constructive relations throughout this period. Despite the differences in the socio-political systems the bilateral relations of our countries are at its peak. The PRC is a key partner of both Bulgaria and the European Union (EU), to which my country belongs. I am personally grateful to the organizers of the high-level symposium for this first visit of mine to understand the sagacity of a Chinese proverb, I paraphraze, it is better to see something once than read about it one hundred times. China proved – and this is a lesson for all, that direct copying of experience and models of development of other countries may lead to nowhere. A methodological lesson in statecraft given by China from the end of the 70s of the last century till nowdays is that thinking big and whole while recognizing the truth in the facts of life, opening to the rest of the world and persistently reforming in a strategically chosen direction is the right way to success. The ability to take the best from the experience and wisdom of the past, sincerely seeking to share the achievements of mankind is a Chinese accomplishment that deserves to be studied by present and future politicians, including in my part of the world.
  • Topic: Development, Diplomacy, International Cooperation, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Bulgaria
  • Author: Jacqueline R. McAllister
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: On 24 May 1994, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY or Yugoslav Tribunal) made history by becoming the first international court to indict a sitting head of state: Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević. Since Milošević’s rise to power roughly a decade before, forces either directly or indirectly under his control had unleashed a reign of terror first in Croatia, then in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and finally in Kosovo. Indicting Milošević was no small feat: he did everything in his power to cover his tracks. Moreover, in order to secure crucial evidence (e.g., intelligence and satellite imagery linking Serb forces to crime sites) and the support necessary to actually put Milošević on trial, the ICTY required the backing of Western powers, which—until the Kosovo War in 1999—viewed Milošević as a vital, yet unsavory guarantor of peace in the region. Reactions to the indictment were mixed. While the Yugoslav Tribunal’s supporters heralded the indictment as a legal triumph that brought Milošević to his knees, its critics emphasized that, at best, the indictment was irrelevant and, at worst, an extraordinary gamble that had the potential to thwart an end to hostilities.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, International Law, Humanitarian Intervention, Ethnic Cleansing
  • Political Geography: Europe, Yugoslavia, Central Europe
  • Author: Wesley K. Clark
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: The countries of Southeast Europe contain numerous ethnic groups that are united by shared geography but divided by language, history, and culture. These nations are located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, and, for centuries, were subjected to Turkish invasion, Austro-Hungarian resistance, Russian Pan-Slavism, Venetian culture along the Adriatic coast, and the respective weights of Islam, Roman Catholicism, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. Melding these groups into the state of Yugoslavia at the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference proved only a temporary solution: with the death of Yugloslav President Josip Tito in 1980, the fractionating forces became dominant, and by 1991, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia were each struggling to secede or survive against a Serb-dominated Serbia-Montenegro.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Humanitarian Intervention, Military Intervention
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, Kosovo, Yugoslavia
  • Author: Carl Death
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Brown Journal of World Affairs
  • Abstract: Can protest really make a difference? Can social movements change any- thing? Do campaigns like those for fossil fuel divestment rapidly snowballing across campuses, cities, churches, and institutional investors in North America, Europe, and elsewhere have any real impact on global political economies of energy? This article argues that the answer to all of these questions is a qualified “yes.” The fossil fuel divestment campaign is a specific manifestation of environ- mental protest, which, since emerging in 2011, has changed some things and has the potential to change others more profoundly.1 Considering the case of the fossil fuel divestment campaign in detail can illuminate important insights about the role of protest in contemporary global politics. Protest movements can impact the world, as evidenced by both the fossil fuel divestment campaign and longer histories of other divestment movements that have contributed to significant struggles for structural change.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Economics, Natural Resources, Protests, Global Warming, Fossil Fuels
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Adetayo Olorunlana
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Ìrìnkèrindò: a Journal of African Migration
  • Abstract: Over 65 million people are displaced worldwide. Some have migrated to Europe, seeking refuge from wars, conflict and natural disasters. Migration and refugee health have significant repercussions for European governments and the European Union (EU), which were somewhat unprepared to address such issues. The EU proposed Health 2020 as immediate measures to address the health needs of refugees and migrants. The initiative was adopted to improve health for all, and to reduce health inequalities through public policy. However, there are legal restrictions barring irregular migrants from accessing these services. In addition, health service policies for irregular migrants varies in the EU region. There is inadequate response to some diseases affecting migrants from African origin. Consequently, refugee and migrant health is neglected, producing an inequitable situation and unnecessary suffering for the migrants, as well as potential risk to population in their host country.
  • Topic: Health, Migration, Population, Public Health, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, European Union