Transatlantic trade negotiations constitute a very complex dossier requiring high-level political decisions on a multitude of diverse and extremely technical matters which are likely to impact every industry and affect investors’ incentives.
Differently from any previous trade agreement, the principal aim of TTIP is not only to dismantle border restrictions such as tariffs and quotas. Rather, it seeks regulatory convergence. Harmonization and mutual recognition of regulations and standards can lead to a substantial cut in red tape and consequently it can have a significant impact on production costs. Continue reading →
I have just recently stumbled across the EU’s Bioeconomy strategy, classified in the administrative organogram at least under ‘Research and innovation’. It could also be DG Industry. Or DG Trade. Or DG Env. Or indeed DG Agri. Tucking it away under Research and innovation was a good idea, I believe: best to keep it safely away from daily policy concerns and ditto lobbying. The Bioeconomy – which is defined as encompassing the sustainable production of renewable resources from land, fisheries and aquaculture environments and their conversion into food, feed, fiber bio-based products and bio-energy as well as the related public goods – is seen by the EC as a successor to the EU’s Biosociety program, which however was more scientific in outlook (lots of talk of new technologies).
A big gap in its approach, to me at least, is its lack of discussion on reduced consumption and ‘need‘ (the Club of Rome has some powerful insight into this) which is a pitty. It talks mostly about increasing and diversifying ‘output’, rather than on reducing it or matching it to true need. For in its current outlook, the Bioeconomy feels more like a postersite for EU ‘innovative’ technologies than one for foresight in development priorities. And no, that is not properly done elsewhere in the EC.
On Sunday, 9 February 2014, the Swiss people voted in favour of re-introducing restrictions on the free movement of workers between the European Union and Switzerland.The reaction of the EU was swift. On Monday, 10 February, the European Commission issued a short but terse press communiqué. “The European Commission regrets that an initiative for the introduction of quantitative limits to immigration has been passed by this vote. This goes against the principle of free movement of persons between the EU and Switzerland. The EU will examine the implications of this initiative on EU-Swiss relations as a whole. In this context, the Federal Council’s position on the result will also be taken into account.”
On the same day, the Financial Times reported that “Viviane Reding, European Commission Vice-President, suggested that Swiss companies could face limits on their access to the European single market if the country pressed ahead with the new quotas.” “The single market is not a Swiss cheese”, she told the Financial Times. “You cannot have a single market with holes in it. Business people will make their cost-benefit analysis and decide where to establish their companies.” Continue reading →
22 years! 22 years have passed since the launch of negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the European Union (EU) and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Bolstered by the prospects of a first inter-regional trade agreement of its kind, both parties entered negotiations in 1991 with great aspirations. Needless to say, both sides saw in this agreement invaluable economic opportunities; in a nutshell: Gulf countries looked to the EU as a major actor in international trade characterized by its strong and attractive common market with dollar-billed eyes; Europeans saw in the GCC a grouping of six Gulf countries so rich in energy reserves to make energy supply concerns a bad dream of the past. Continue reading →