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Looking for partners: The EU’s free trade agreements in perspective

July 27, 2012
Since 2006 the European Union has increasingly been looking to sign deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with emerging markets. In the meantime it has also been turning its attention to some industrialised nations. A trade agreement with South Korea has already come into effect. Although the EU is pinning great hopes on India and a number of ASEAN states, it is also keen to conclude similar agreements with Mercosur, Canada, Ukraine and virtually all of the Southern Mediterranean countries. It is even considering Japan and the United States as potential partners. If the European Union's bilateral free trade strategy were fully implemented by the end of this decade, it would give a moderate boost to trade, welfare, growth and employment in the EU and would often provide a much stronger stimulus in the partner countries concerned. This free trade strategy is also highly ambitious in terms of its diplomatic objectives because issues that have so far received insufficient attention – such as trade in services, technical trade barriers and foreign direct investment – are to be better regulated. Whether the EU – currently the world's largest trading bloc – is ultimately successful with this strategy will in many cases be decided by domestic politics in the partner countries. The fundamental question of whether a deep bilateral strategy should perhaps be complemented by a parallel multilateral approach as a matter of considerable urgency will be especially pertinent in transatlantic relations. However, there is also a risk of tensions within the international system. [more]

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90 Documents
July 10, 2020
Region:
1
The coronavirus recession results in large-scale balance sheet changes both at euro-area and US banks. At the peak of the slump, lending to companies and corporate deposits surged further, while lending to households was much less affected. Banks also strongly increased their funding from and liquidity buffers at central banks. Within the euro area, funding from the ECB rose particularly in Germany and France, but remains much more important in Italy and Spain. Purchases of government bonds by US banks were smaller and started later than in the EMU. Over the next couple of months, corporate loans and deposits may gradually come down both in the US and Europe. Banks’ liquidity reserves at central banks are set to decrease, while their government bond holdings are expected to rise considerably. [more]
April 24, 2020
Region:
2
The press statement of European Council President Michel after yesterday’s video conference of EU leaders remained vague on the EU’s joint fiscal response to the COVID-19 crisis. EU leaders endorsed their earlier agreement on the EUR 540 bn package of safety nets and also agreed “to work towards establishing a recovery fund”, asking the Commission to rapidly prepare a proposal of what this requires. Interlinking the EU's recovery plan with the budget might add another layer of complexity but could also serve as a spur for rapid agreements on both matters. [more]
March 18, 2020
Region:
Topic:
3
The competition for global AI leadership is speeding up. But it already seems to be a two-horse race between the US and China. Europe faces an imminent risk of falling far behind if the EU and its members do not react rapidly and boldly. This could have broad implications for Europe's competitiveness, future wealth and political stability. The Commission's recently published White Paper on AI and its communication on a European strategy for data are crucial steps to formalise the debate on addressing the AI challenge in Europe. While the EU's strategy goes in the right direction, several points need to be clarified, in particular regarding the investment gap towards the US and China, finding the right balance between regulation and competitiveness of the EU's AI industry, and data access for AI research. [more]
August 22, 2019
Region:
4
The digital transformation has enriched societal discourse through new forms of multilateral communication, but it has also amplified the spread of misinformation, echo chambers and propaganda, offering authoritarian states new means of surveillance and control. How democracies approach this challenge will be a key factor in their performance, given intensifying competition among political systems. [more]
July 22, 2019
Analyst:
5
Facebook’s Libra project aims to establish both a private digital currency backed by a basket of hard currencies and a global payment network. It is thus challenging many established players in the financial system, including central banks, credit institutions and payment providers. Facebook can integrate Libra services into its digital platforms and benefit from strong network effects. In Europe, Libra would enter a competitive but fragmented digital payments market. As a currency, Libra will carry a foreign exchange risk for Europeans. But if the ECB drove interest rates deeply below zero, Libra could offer an easy digital way out. The flipside, though, would be a loss of sovereignty for Europe. [more]
June 4, 2019
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Analyst:
6
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a significant step forward in the digitalisation and transformation of modern businesses. Investors are lining up to be part of the imminent change. AI attracted USD 24 bn in investments globally in 2018, a twelvefold increase since 2013. Within Europe, Germany, France and the UK are the frontrunners in experimentation and in the implementation of AI. Similar to earlier examples of information technology (IT) implementation in financial services, AI promises great efficiency gains and potential revenue increases and its potential contribution to bank profitability should not be underestimated. [more]
May 23, 2019
Region:
7
Results from the 23-26 May EU elections will not be published before late Sunday evening, final numbers not before Monday morning. Polls continue to indicate a loss of the conservatives' and social democrats' traditional majority while right-wing and left-wing Eurosceptics could gain more than 35% of the seats in the next EP. We do not expect any Council decisions on the next Commission President and other key positions before the June 20-21 summit. But negotiations between leaders on the EU's top jobs could last much longer and also a lengthy standoff between the Council and Parliament over the "Spitzenkandidaten" procedure cannot be excluded. [more]
May 21, 2019
Region:
8
Digital taxation is currently a subject of intense debate and since large digital companies are widely thought to pay inappropriately low taxes, policymakers remain under pressure to act. However, all approaches which are based on the taxation of revenues instead of profits have major flaws. As digital services expand into ever new areas of the economy (‘smart everything’), the risk of a far-reaching, arbitrary taxation of entrepreneurial activities is increasing. Disruption, the buzzword of the digitalisation discussions, may become an issue in international tax policy, too. In addition to an (international) digital tax, minimum taxes are one of the concepts under discussion. [more]
May 6, 2019
Region:
9
The May European Parliament elections could see Germany's conservative CDU/CSU and Social Democrats lose a substantial share of votes compared to the last round in 2014, whereas the Greens could overtake the SPD and become the second strongest party. Compared to European peers, the appeal of the far-right AfD to German voters remains far more limited. Still, the AfD could expand its share and rank fourth, followed by the Liberals and the far-left Leftist party. Shifts of voters' support between centrist parties will not have a substantial impact on Germany's generally pro-European stance. However, these parties still represent different views on the future of the EU, e.g. regarding further EMU deepening. [more]
April 11, 2019
Region:
10
Soft and hard EU(ro)sceptic as well as anti-establishment parties could account for one-quarter up to one-third of the seats in the next EP, according to our updated poll-based projections. We have doubts about whether Eurosceptic and nationalistic groups in the EP will be able to overcome their previous discrepancies and build a significantly more united bloc. However, even without a joint agenda, Eurosceptics could make coalition building (as on the national level) much more complex and increasingly split the next EP into two camps. [more]
March 25, 2019
Region:
11
While digitalisation does promise significant additional prosperity, it also threatens to lead to higher inequality. A major automation wave or increasingly capital-intensive production would reduce the overall wage share and raise corporate and capital income. According to our scenario analysis, the EU countries would, on average, have to deal with a huge annual fiscal deficit if automation dramatically reduced employment. It is uncertain how digitalisation will affect the demand for labour and the public finances. Nevertheless, governments should try and prepare their countries for the future, for example by paying more attention to education policy and adapting the international tax system to the realities of the 21st century, for example in the field of corporate taxation. [more]
February 28, 2019
Region:
12
The outcome of the EU elections and the composition of the new Parliament will significantly influence the nomination and election of the next President of the European Commission (EC). Parliament will vote for the Council's proposed candidate in a secret ballot with a majority of component MEPs required. The election of the Commission President will be particularly challenging this year. Given the projected new balance of power after the elections both within the EP and within the Council as well as between the EP and the EU Council, an institutional stalemate cannot be ruled out. [more]
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