Signing and ratifying Association Agreements with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine has proven to be an impressive affirmation of Brussels’ soft power. The EU’s overtures have persuaded elites and mobilised societies despite the fact that the Agreements come neither with a membership promise nor with the kind of financial assistance that has been given to the EU’s new member states. EU assistance has been effective in restoring macro-financial stability in all three countries. While costs of compliance with the DCFTA were calculated, level of investment associated with the necessary modernisation to make these economies competitive were neglected. The discrepancy between costs and benefits should prompt the EU to be more flexible.
For the first time worldwide, EU trade rules will require trade partners outside the EU to meet international social and environmental standards, so as to prevent dumping.
Posting of workers plays an important role in the internal market, particularly in the cross-border provision of services. While the number of posted workers continues to increase significantly, problems such as unfair practices and unequal remunerations persist. In addition, the correct balance between the freedom to provide cross-border services and the social rights of workers needs to be adapted to today`s situation. The targeted revision of the Posting of Workers Directive (96/71/EC) proposed by the Commission would bring changes in three main areas: the remuneration of posted workers (making it equal to that of local workers, even when subcontracting), more coherent rules on temporary agency workers, as well as long-term posting. While the majority of stakeholders welcome the proposal, the Member States are divided: a considerable number wish first to fully implement the 2014 Enforcement Directive before proceeding to a further revision. Moreover, sufficient numbers of national parliaments have delivered reasoned opinions on the proposal to require the Commission to reconsider.
The Cotonou Agreement, a treaty binding the EU and 78 ACP countries, the majority of them from sub-Saharan Africa, is set to expire in 2020. Since its inception in 2000, major changes have occurred and new issues have emerged, requiring a broader approach. For the African states parties to the Cotonou Agreement, the Joint Africa-EU strategy could be an appropriate platform to reflect on their future relations with the EU.
Since 2014, trade between the EU and Russia has slumped due to the difficult context (an economic downturn in Russia, EU sanctions over Ukraine and Russian counter-sanctions, and long-standing trade barriers), but remains substantial. Trade started to recover in early 2017.
Prepared by Policy Department A at the request of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), this report examines the current state of play in the open data market and the legal framework in the EU. Barriers and possible solutions are identified in the form of future scenarios to 2020-25. The key policy recommendation is to instigate a system of Open Data Licensing to drive access to open data, akin to open source software licensing.
Regulation 1073/2009 lays down the rules applicable to access to the international market for coach and bus services. Research of available documentation shows that there are various challenges to the present system that limit harmonisation in this particular field, including differences in rules on access to national markets across Member States, different openness of national markets and diverse national arrangements negatively influencing free provision of services in the field of transport. The European Parliament has called on the European Commission to ensure the completion and improved operation of the internal market for the transport by road of passengers and freight. Similarly, the European Economic and Social Committee has called for changes in this field. The European Commission published its legislative proposal amending the regulation on 8 November 2017.
The EU is currently reshaping its relationship with Armenia and Azerbaijan through new agreements for which the negotiations ended (Armenia) or started (Azerbaijan) in February 2017. After Yerevan’s decision to join the EAEU (thereby renouncing to sign an AA/DCFTA), the initialling of the CEPA provides a new impetus to EU-Armenia relations. It highlights Armenia’s lingering interest in developing closer ties with the EU and provides a vivid illustration of the EU’s readiness to respond to EaP countries’ specific needs and circumstances. The CEPA is also a clear indication that the EU has not engaged in a zero-sum game with Russia and is willing to exploit any opportunity to further its links with EaP countries. The launch of negotiations on a new EU-Azerbaijan agreement – in spite of serious political and human rights problems in the country – results from several intertwined factors, including the EU’s energy security needs and Baku’s increasing bargaining power. At this stage, Azerbaijan is interested only in forms of cooperation that are not challenging the political status quo. However, the decline in both world oil prices and domestic oil production in this country is creating bargaining opportunities for the EU in what promises to be a difficult negotiation.