viernes, 27 de noviembre de 2015

World trade talks in MC10: MEPs ask for substantive progress in "Doha round"

Substantive progress towards concluding the staggering "Doha Round" has to be made during the next round of world trade talks, say MEPs in a non-legislative resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Thursday, ahead of the Tenth Ministerial World Trade Conference (MC10) in Nairobi (Kenya), which will take place on 15-18 December this year.

In the resolution, adopted by 500 votes in favour, 125 against and 23 abstentions, MEPs urge the EU to continue leading towards a swift and full conclusion of the longstanding Doha Development Round, launched back in 2001. They add that a "review of the level of ambition" may be needed to achieve realistic results.

MEPs stress that Nairobi must be a success for developing countries, with development at the centre of the world trade talks and full account taken of the special needs of developing and least developed countries. In attempts to liberalize the world trade, nevertheless, account has to be taken on the sensitivity of some sectors such as agriculture.

Reform the WTO

In the resolution MEPs ask for a structural reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO), to better guarantee an open, fair and non-discriminatory trading system based on shared and applied rules, which takes greater account of SMEs, micro-enterprises and innovative start-ups.

They say that the WTO and its rules have been essential to avoid "fully fledged and widespread protectionism" after the 2008 financial and economic crisis, however, they add that of the 1 244 restrictive measures recorded since the onset of the crisis, only 282 have been removed, and there was need for more action against such measures. "Failure to upgrade rules may lead to new and innovative ways of protecting domestic markets and producers", MEPs warn.

Plurilateral talks

Whereas MEPs remain fully committed to the "the enduring value of multilateralism", they commend the progress made to date on "plurilateral" initiatives, in particular the Trade Facilitation Agreement, ratified by MEPs in October this year, and call upon all WTO members to ratify it so that it can enter into force before still before the MC10.

They nevertheless remind that the ultimate objective of plurilateral deals was to bring in a critical mass of WTO members and "multilateralise them".

Involve parliaments

MEPs call on the Commission and Council to involve the EP closely in preparations for the MC10, and, if necessary, consulted MEPs during the Ministerial Conference. They also call other WTO members to strengthen the parliamentary dimension of the WTO and ensure that parliamentarians all over the world have better access to trade talks.


The Tenth Ministerial WTO Conference will take place in Kenya from 15 to 18 December 2015 - the first time a WTO Ministerial Conference is held in an African country.

A delegation of 10 MEPs, led by EP's Trade committee chair Bernd Lange (S&D, DE) will attend the world trade talks Nairobi round.

The EU remains world's region with the most far-reaching parliamentary power over trade legislation.

martes, 13 de octubre de 2015


This week the European Parliament (EP) published the amendments made to the European proposal already approved for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which is being ratified within the World Trade Organization (WTO). With the European Parliament step completed, the proposal goes to the European Council for approval by Member States. Only after that, the European Union will be ready for the WTO’s Tenth Ministerial Conference (MC10) in Nairobi in December 2015 and will conclude the Doha Round.
The rapporteur of the proposal is the MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain (Group of the European People’s Party – Christian Democrats) Vice-Chair of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON), Co-Chair of the EP Delegation to the WTO and member of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (DLAT).
The Trade Facilitation Agreement is a package of measures that covers issues including advanced rulings, transparency, goods in transit, specific issues responding to the concerns of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and simplifying customs formalities. The agreement was negotiated in Bali (Indonesia) in December 2013 in a multilateral context but it wasn’t until December 2014 that it became part of the WTO law. To enter into force, two-thirds of the 161 WTO members will have to ratify the Agreement. Both the EU and the United States have committed to make it happen.
EUBrasil: What are the advances of the project that you wrote?
Zalba Bidegain: The Trade Facilitation Agreement is a very important achievement for the WTO. We are dealing with an agreement that if is to be defined with one word, that would be innovative. Innovative in the way it addresses trade facilitation, supporting greater transparency and proposing a special and differential treatment for non-developed and developing countries. The Agreement constitutes a tool to boost trade among WTO member countries, to fight border corruption and to encourage small and medium enterprises through a reduction in bureaucratic costs and a better access to information.
EUBrasil: WTO members are already working for countries to ratify this agreement before the end of the year. So far, how many countries have ratified the TFA?
Zalba Bidegain: To date, 18 members (Hong Kong, Singapore, United States, Mauritius, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Botswana, Trinidad and Tobago, Korea, Nicaragua, Niger, Taipei, Switzerland, China, Liechenstein, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Belize) ratified the Protocol which incorporates the Trade Facilitation Agreement in Annex 1st of the WTO Agreement. It is a process that takes time because each member country has to ratify the Protocol internally, and, in cases such as the EU, it is necessary to get a clear and joint position among all 28 member states. I believe that we will reach and surpass the two-thirds needed given that many countries pledged to ratify the Protocol.
EUBrasil: The Trade Facilitation Agreement reduces the transaction costs of foreign trade, but some say it is much more symbolic than effective, and also add it is a way to divert attention from the central issues of the Doha Round and its possible failure. What is your opinion on these considerations?
Zalba Bidegain: There is no doubt the new approach that the Agreement is taking is symbolic, however it is not symbolic solely for its effectiveness. The agreement plans a differential treatment for underdeveloped and developing countries, allowing them to implement the provisions of the Agreement in a more flexible way according to their technical resources. To achieve implementation speed, developed countries will provide technical assistance to countries in need.
This approach leads to more developing countries being “encouraged” to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement and thus enjoying greater efficiency. The Doha Round began in 2011 with a focus on developing countries. If the Trade Facilitation Agreement achieves broad implementation, I believe we can qualify it as progress rather than a failure.
EUBrasil: Considering that the central theme of the Doha Round is agriculture, what can we expect from Nairobi for the global liberalization round not to be considered a failure?
Zalba Bidegain: We are facing a complex dilemma. On the one hand, in a globalized world, it is desirable to move forward on the multilateral level in order to involve as many countries as possible, but at the same time, it is increasingly difficult to get agreements between such diverse cultures and economies. I believe that the WTO is functioning well. The results to be obtained during the Nairobi Conference will depend largely on the willingness to work and reach a compromise that countries can embrace in December.
There is a consensus to proceed first with the Trade Facilitation Agreement in order to implement the rest of the package of measures adopted in Bali. We are talking about very sensitive issues, such as the subject of food reserves. Now we have to focus our efforts on achieving third party ratification of the Agreement by of the WTO members in order to know how far they can get in the negotiations on agriculture.
EUBrasil: How does the European Parliament see the three pillars of trade: elimination of export subsidies, market access and reduction of domestic subsidies?
Zalba Bidegain: The European Parliament supports the liberalization of world trade, as it has demonstrated in successive free trade agreements that the EU signed with other countries and regions. I have no doubt that regional mega agreements – such as TTIP or TPP- cannot be seen as damaging to multilateral agreements, but quite the opposite. Regional agreements have always existed, considering it was only recently that multilateralism has become less effective. We are trying to alleviate this shortage with the agreements as the TFA.
In this sense, I believe that the advances that we can get in agreements such as the TTIP, will serve as a testing ground to know what formulas may work better multilaterally – both for the elimination of subsidies, market access and reduction of domestic subsidies as well as in new areas.
EUBrasil: Nowadays is there any difference between the position of the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission with regard to what will be discussed in Nairobi?
Zalba Bidegain: As a major trading bloc, we have to show responsibility and do everything possible so that the Ministerial Conference in Nairobi is a success. The three are working together to be able to reach the goals.

jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015

No Madrid usciranno dalla UE Un rischio per tutti

«La Catalogna è europea perché è spagnola. Artur Mas ha ingannato molti catalani, continuando a dir loro: da indipendenti, resteremo sempre nella Ue. Ma non è così. Se Barcellona dichiarerà unilateralmente l’indipendenza dalla Spagna, la sua uscita dalla Ue sarà inevitabile, automatica. E sarà un rischio per tutta l’Unione». 
Pablo Zalba Bidegain, eurodeputato spagnolo del Partito popolare e vicepresidente della Commissione Affari economici e monetari all’Europarlamento, si dice «molto preoccupato» dai venti di secessione che soffiano da Barcellona. E non certo perché lui viene dalla Navarra. Lo preoccupano i riflessi sull’Europa intera. 
Perché? «Perché l’Europa vuole oggi abbattere le frontiere, non costruirne di nuove. Unire, e non creare fratture. E portare avanti l’idea federale, con gli Stati che cedono più sovranità all’Unione. Una dichiarazione di indipendenza catalana andrebbe esattamente nel senso opposto». 
Non pensa che Bruxelles, maestra di negoziati, potrebbe alla fine negoziare un’«uscita morbida» dalla Spagna per Mas e i suoi? «Impossibile. Sono gli stessi Trattati dell’Ue a sancire il destino di chi vuol secedere dal proprio Paese. E poi, la Catalogna ha una sua grande vocazione europea. Ma lo ripeto: è europea perché è spagnola». 
È ancora possibile un dialogo con Madrid? «Certo che sì: il governo popolare di Rajoy ha sempre la mano tesa verso Barcellona, è sempre pronto ad ascoltare e a parlare. Purché il dialogo resti entro i limiti della legalità: e cioè, che non vi siano dichiarazioni e iniziative unilaterali». 
La vostra memoria storica racchiude anche sangue e violenza: c’è il rischio di una nuova guerra civile? «Assolutamente no. A Barcellona devono soltanto formare un governo e poi cercare di risolvere i problemi concreti, quotidiani, dei loro cittadini: primo, combattere la disoccupazione; secondo, generare la stabilità necessaria perché arrivino gli investimenti, anche dall’estero». 
Ma la Catalogna ha anche le sue risorse. Non potrebbe avere una sua autonomia economica, se lasciasse Madrid? «No. Pensi solo che, in un caso del genere, tutte le sue imprese dovrebbero cominciare a pagare i dazi per esportare i loro prodotti nel resto della Spagna, o dei Paesi Ue».
 Eppure conta anche il voto popolare, la democrazia diretta... «Sì. Ma a Barcellona, come tutti sappiamo, i sostenitori dell’indipendenza hanno avuto in realtà meno voti di quelli che non la vogliono. Poi hanno vinto con i seggi, per via della legge elettorale. Però io continuo a credere nella vocazione europea dei catalani». 

Backstage with Europe's Creators

MEP Victor Negrescu and EU40 hosted an exhibition called "Backstage with Europe's Creators" in the European Parliament on September 22nd. MEP Pablo Zalba speaks in this video.

lunes, 28 de septiembre de 2015

No Catalan referendum regardless of vote

There will be no referendum in Catalonia even if pro-independence parties win a majority, an MEP from the Spanish ruling party has insisted. Regional elections will take place this weekend. Pablo Zalba believes his unionist party - Partido Popular - has a good chance. But even if pro-independence parties win the most seats, he says a referendum on whether to leave Spain would be impossible under the Spanish constitution.

jueves, 17 de septiembre de 2015

Are MEPs human?

A collection of 200 portraits was unveiled on 14 September at the European Parliament's Esplanade in Brussels. The photos are part of an exhibition organised by EU40 called "Like You", which aims to show the human side of politicians by placing their pictures next to pictures of ordinary citizens.
"The whole idea", said MEP Daniel Dalton, "is for people to have a look and see if they can work out which ones are the politicians and which ones aren't".
An additional 600 photos can be found online, where visitors can also take a quiz to test how many MEPs they can recognize. The exhibition's creators said that no one has yet managed to earn a perfect score on the quiz.
MEPs at the opening of the exhibition admitted that citizens in Europe don't always feel connected to politicians. "It's somehow contradictory", said MEP Pablo Zalba Bidegain, "that in the period of technology, you can send an email in a few seconds to anywhere in the world, but Brussels is too far away from Europe. I think this exhibition helps to make Brussels closer to the citizens".

jueves, 10 de septiembre de 2015

EP ratifies the world trade facilitation deal

MEPs on Wednesday's vote backed a decision for the EU to join the World Trade organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement, thereby ratifying it on behalf of the EU. The deal aims to ease customs procedures, reduce border delays and cut costs for exporters, in particular small firms and producers in developing countries, and, once implemented, could cut the costs of trade by between 12.5% and 17.5%.

"The Trade Facilitation Agreement is key for boosting international trade and economic development. It will help reduce bureaucracy and corruption while fostering transparency, growth, opportunities for companies and ultimately job creation. At a time when Europe is experiencing a difficult migration crisis this Agreement can be a good tool to help to directly tackle the problem of the developing countries of origin of immigrants", said the rapporteur Pablo Zalba Bidegain (EPP, ES).

The agreement contains around 40 provisions aimed at making it easier for exporters to comply with border measures and a technical assistance mechanism to help developing and least-developed countries to handle the customs procedures. It was backed by the EP by 569 votes in favour, 99 against and 27 abstentions.

In the accompanying own-initiative resolution MEPs stress the benefits of the deal for developing countries, in particular for SMEs, in cutting the red tape, reducing the uncertainty about market entry conditions. MEPs quote toe OECD estimates that, once fully implemented, the deal could cut the costs of trade by between 12.5% and 17.5%.

They also stress that the rules on transparency and the automated entry and payment of duties, could help address border corruption.

MEPs in resolution also support the EU initiative to target EUR 400 million in five years for supporting trade facilitation reforms and improving the customs systems of developing and least developed countries.

Next steps
The deal now also needs to be backed by the EU Council.

It will take effect upon ratification by two thirds of all WTO members. After that, all WTO members will have to modernize their customs procedures to comply with the new provisions.

The trade facilitation agreement was concluded at the 9th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2013 as a part of the so called "Bali Package" and is the first multilateral agreement WTO has achieved since it was established in 1995.
It contains approximately 40 provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including provisions for the publication of laws, regulations and procedures, use of electronic payment, reduced formalities and documentation requirements or uniformity in application of border procedures.

miércoles, 1 de julio de 2015

TTIP gridlock unblocked

Pablo Zalba, member of the European Parliament say in Europarl TV:

"The sonner we pass this resolution the better, because them the Comission will have a stronger mandate to negociate with the US."

jueves, 25 de junio de 2015

«Pagare noi i privilegi dei greci? Assurdo»

L’eurodeputato spagnolo Bidegain spiega perché la solidarietà in Europa è così difficile.

«Noi spagnoli abbiamo dato 26 mila milioni di euro, per aiutare la Grecia nei momenti più drammatici della sua crisi. Ma non lo abbiamo certo fatto perché poi cercasse di regalare ai suoi cittadini dei privilegi che nessuno spagnolo, e nessun cittadino dell’eurozona, ha mai avuto».

Pablo Zalba Bidegain, 40 anni, eurodeputato del Partito popolare europeo e vicepresidente della commissione Affari economici e monetari dell’Europarlamento, è considerato il portavoce della generazione più giovane dei politici spagnoli. Quelli, appunto, che insieme con i colleghi portoghesi, o irlandesi, oggi guardano con una certa perplessità agrodolce al piano greco e a certe temute arrendevolezze dell’Europa.

Vi sembra che la Grecia sia stata trattata troppo bene, rispetto alle condizioni che hanno dovuto affrontare in questi anni i vostri Paesi?

«Mettiamola così: in generale, per avere solidarietà dagli altri, devi anche tu essere solidale con loro. Bene, la Grecia ha chiesto e chiede la solidarietà dell’eurozona. Ma se poi cerca di avere più vantaggi e privilegi per i suoi cittadini, rispetto a quelli di tutti gli altri Paesi, è lei a non mostrarsi solidale». Ed è così che è andata? «Tsipras ha fatto troppa politica, in un momento così critico e su temi così drammatici». Qualche esempio? «Eccone subito uno, il più clamoroso. In media, nell’Ue viene assorbito dalle pensioni il 13% del Pil. In Grecia, la percentuale è invece del 17,5%. Ciò significa una sola cosa: che è logico, e basico, intervenire con una riforma per ridurre questo peso». Come? «Riducendo il numero dei prepensionamenti, e aumentando l’età media dell’andata in pensione. Lei immagini che una regione italiana dichiari di colpo: da noi si va in pensione a 58, 60 anni, e non a 67. Tutti direbbero: è pazzesco. Anche perché una decisione così è di competenza statale, non regionale. Eppure proprio questo, fatte le debite proporzioni, è avvenuto in Grecia rispetto al resto della Ue».

Un errore soltanto economico?

«Anche politico, naturalmente. E morale. Perché qui torniamo al tema della solidarietà: l’eurozona è e sarà solidale al suo interno se le norme dei singoli Paesi saranno armonizzate fra loro. Questa è la condizione prima. E perché questo accada, perché anche la Grecia abbia la solidarietà degli altri, bisogna per esempio che l’età del pensionamento dei suoi cittadini sia in linea con quella degli altri Stati. C’è un’altra cosa che non mi piace…». Quale? «Che Tsipras non può far pensare al suo popolo che l’Eurozona, e la Ue, siano un male. Perché questo è falso».

L’accordo sembrava alle porte, ora non più. Come andrà a finire?

«Sono ottimista. Il governo greco ha cominciato a capireche stare nel club dell’euro ha i suoi vantaggi, ma anche le sue norme e le sue condizioni. In spagnolo diciamo: “nuncas tarde se la dicha es buena”. E cioè: “meglio tardi che mai”».

Qualcuno dice ora che, dopo la Grecia, potrebbe essere la Spagna a tornare in una zona di rischio.

«La Spagna ha un governo, quello di Mariano Rajoy, che ha capito la necessità delle riforme. Oggi è alla testa della crescita, e della creazione di nuovi posti di lavoro. Ci sono molte più speranze rispetto a 5 anni fa. La Grecia ha invece perduto molto tempo. E poi non aveva capito la cosa più importante». E cioè? «Che il suo vero problema non è il debito pubblico. Ma la crescita, spinta dalle riforme. La ristrutturazione del debito è una battaglia persa. Syriza, Tsipras, avrebbero dovuto cercare fondi, aiuti, risorse, per la crescita. E Katainen (commissario europeo al lavoro, crescita, investimenti e competitività, ndr) era disposto ad aiutare la crescita della Grecia per attutire l’impatto di certe riforme». Accadrà ora? «Speriamo. La verità è che la Grecia ha avuto un governo irresponsabile che non capiva le sue priorità. Ora spero che abbia capito e continui a comprenderlo anche nei prossimi mesi. Questa volta, il riscatto è obbligato».

Tsipras non ha capito che il vero problema non è il debito ma la crescita spinta dalle riforme. La ristrutturazione del debito è una battaglia persa.

martes, 16 de junio de 2015

Movers and Shakers

Keep track of movements in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column.

European Parliament:

Members of Committees, Subcommittees and Delegations:
Pablo Zalba Bidegain (EPP, Spain) switched from substitute to member of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (D-LAT).
Brian Crowley (ECR, Ireland) joined the Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI).
Diane James (EFDD, UK) joined the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).
Patrick O'Flynn (EFDD, UK) switched from member to substitute of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).
Substitutes of Committees, Subcommittees and Delegations:
Tom Vandenkendelaere (EPP, Belgium) switched from member to substitute of the Delegation to the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (D-LAT).
Bolesław G. Piecha (ECR, Poland) joined the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (D-ACP).
Political parties:
Ex MEP Zita Gurmai (Hungary) re-elected as President of the European Socialists women's' organisation (PES Women).

European Commission:
Pierre Moscovici's team: Lucie Mattera joined as a member, replacing Malgorzata Iskra.
Translation (DGT) - Directorate S: Klaudia Zagorowicz is the new Customer Relations adviser.

Council of the European Union:
General Secretariat:
Christine Roger appointed as Director-General for Justice and Home Affairs, replacing Rafael Fernandez. She will take up her new position as of 1 July.

European Central Bank:
International and European Relations: Lucas Ter Braak became the new Head of EU Institutions and Fora Division Unit, replacingJohannes Lindner.
Stuart ORR became the new Head of Information Management Services Division Unit, replacing Emily Witt.
Public Affairs:
American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU): Melanie Faithfull Kent, Chief Operating Officer of Hill+Knowlton Strategies, appointed as the Chair of the Communications and Marketing Group and the newest member of the AmCham EU Board.
Solidar: Francisca Sauquillo has been elected as President and MEP Knut Fleckenstein (S&D, Germany) as Vice-President.
International Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (IFIEC Europe): Annette Loske elected as the new President, succeedingFernand Felzinger who will continue as Vice-President to chair IFIEC Europe's Management Committee. Alessandro Profili elected as Deputy President, succeeding Peter Claes.

News in a nutshell:
Member states:
Poland: The Minister for Health Bartosz Arłukowicz, the Minister for Treasury Włodzimierz Karpiński and the Minister for SportsAndrzej Biernat, Civil Platform party (EPP) resigned amid leaked tapes. The parliamentary Speaker, Radek Sikorski and three Deputy Ministers resigned as well.
Denmark: Danish people head to the polls on Thursday 18 June, after Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, Social Democrats (S&D) called a snap election in May.
Romania: The Romanian MPs voted against lifting the immunity of the Prime Minister Victor Ponta, Social Democratic Party (S&D), who is facing corruption allegations. President Klaus Iohannis urged him to resign, but Ponta refused and passed a vote of confidence on Friday 12 June. On Tuesday 11 June the Minister for Transport Ioan Rus, Social Democratic Party (S&D) resigned.
United Kingdom: British MPs backed the plans for the EU referendum during the first debate and voted by 544 to 53 in favour of the bill, which now moves to the next stage of its process.
Applicant states:
Turkey: The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) (AECR) lost its parliamentary majority and has now 45 days to form a coalition government. The pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party (HDP) crossed the 10 per cent threshold and secured seats in the parliament for first time. If no coalition deal is reached, a fragile minority government and early elections seem likely to follow. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu resigned on Tuesday 9 June, but will remain in his post until a new government is formed.
Finland: The European affiliation of the Centre Party is ALDE Group and not ECR. 

jueves, 14 de mayo de 2015

Federalism, Closer Every Day

Back in the late fifties, a few European States joined forces forming the EEC (European Economic Community). Throughout the last decades, many other countries have joined this highly attractive club due to the innumerable advantages that creating a common European culture ought to bring. Being able to enjoy freedoms in the areas of trading, transport and cultural exchange is a reality that was an unthinkable luxury not so long ago.

Some of the biggest advances towards a European complete unification were made thanks politics that had convenience in mind. For instance, it is thanks to the Schengen Agreement that us Europeans have been able to seamlessly travel across any EU member’s frontiers for three decades now. This facilitates free trade and transit of people by an unconceivable amount. On top of that, the creation of the common currency, the Euro, crowns the project of a common European market. Currency exchange was confined to the pages of history.

It must be pointed out that the European alliance is not only a matter of comfort and convenience: it is also very clearly a necessity. Being unified in a European Federation (the United States of Europe, if you will) would bring a new chance of confronting the future world powers. It is a known fact that Asia will basically rule the markets in a few decades, that’s why it is decisive to act collectively in order to avoid economic incompetence. A European Federation would be the home of more than 450 million citizens, more than the USA and Russia combined. On top of that, it would produce 25% of the world’s wealth and therefore could get to be considered a heavyweight in world trade and economic influence. It seems like a perfect plan, doesn’t it?

The list goes on. There are many issues that cannot be fought efficiently by each country individually, but that can be actively eliminated under a joint venture of powers. For instance, energetic dependence is one of the biggest problems our nations are facing. We simply cannot afford to depend on foreign unstable States for such important concern. Also, it must be pointed out that Islamic terrorism currently supposes a considerable threat to our freedoms and liberties. An imminent reaction is required, and the most powerful it is, the better. Finally, immigration: an issue that not only concerns the southernmost States but also Europe as a whole. These are only a few of the obstacles that an alliance of States could help eradicate. If union makes strength, then federalism makes invincibility.

As the Spanish Secretary of State for the European Union, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo recently stated on a visit to the University of Navarra, during the harsh years of recession the EU members have given up some of their sovereignty in exchange for stability. By yielding power to Brussels, it is true that governments lose some of their power. However, central supervision has proven to be quite positive in terms of security and therefore it has been proven that the upper European government can handle major issues such as economic policy. The next predictable evolution will be a unification of the members’ fiscal policies in order to simplify legal issues by a great amount.

The final step towards definitive federal centralization is still a long time away. There are countless sharp edges that need being taken care of, especially in the social and cultural side. However, we will most likely see a time in history when the citizens of the European Union decide to face the rest of the world together as a team, forgetting about our differences and focusing on competence and prosperity. How does that sound?

martes, 7 de abril de 2015

Broad treaty could establish new global trading norms

The European Union has been determined to achieve a level playing field in economic relations with each of its trading partners. Given China's growing importance on the international scene, European companies' trade with and investments in China has risen exponentially over the years, especially since China's entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Since 2013, China has been the world's largest trading nation and the second-biggest consumer nation in the world. It is now the EU's second-largest trading partner (after the United States), while the EU is China's biggest trading partner. Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China is striving to modernize its economy by liberalizing government-controlled areas - the upcoming liberalization of interest rates, authorization for private banks to be owned entirely by private investors and the contribution of Internet financial services to free up the financial market are just some examples.

Still, investment flows show untapped potential. Although bilateral trade in 2012 accounted for almost 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) a day, Chinese investments into the EU represented only 2.6 percent of total FDI flows into the EU.

The recent settlements to disputes between the EU and China in the solar panel and wine industries show a willingness on both sides to strengthen relations. The wine industry agreement includes a pledge by the European wine industry to help China develop its domestic wine production and helping the nation better understand the EU wine market. In return, China will organize tastings of European wine in China.

Twenty-six EU member states have already signed individual bilateral investment treaties with the world's second-biggest economy in an aim to lower protectionist measures that often prevent European companies from fairly competing in the Chinese market. Since the 2009 Treaty of Lisbon granted the EU the exclusive rights to negotiate new investment treaties, the union has had the opportunity to negotiate an overarching agreement that would replace the 26 existing BITs. The idea of such an agreement emerged in 2010 and China and the EU wrapped up their fourth round of negotiations in January.

Over the past few years, China has adopted a different economic strategy worldwide, shifting from "ordinary" pacts that focus on trade in goods - primarily with Asian countries - to deals involving investment and trade in services. Both the BIT with the EU and the proposed talks on a Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific are signals of this change, likely triggered by two key trade agreements involving the US that will introduce new norms to the global economy: the Trans-Pacific Partnership and The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

In a globalized environment where a growing number of international challenges are addressed with "soft" instruments, such as decrees or joint plans of action, it is up to mega/multi-regional trade and investment agreements to establish global standards for the future.

China is ready to take on high-quality commitments and shake off its "non-market economy" status, although considerable concern remains over China's compliance with its WTO obligations and international trade rules generally. After the fourth round of BIT negotiations, European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom called for China to ensure that a pair of closely watched negotiations - expansion of the WTO's Information Technology Agreement and Environmental Goods Agreement - are brought to fruition within the WTO framework.

The EU is going to pursue an ambitious BIT that not only involves a high level of investment protection, but also market access, removals of transfer of technology requirements and a more transparent and predictable market. This treaty can serve both parties as a crucial stepping stone toward better economic and cultural understanding and hopefully further more agreements.