External relations - Related Opinions
2019 is the year we are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of a real and living partnership – the Eastern Partnership (EaP). Over the last decade this partnership has gone through its share of difficulties. Yet, it not only endured - it developed, matured and delivered beyond what we foresaw at the beginning.
Thus after 10 years of EaP policy, it is crucial to properly evaluate the achievements and aims and reflect on the next possible steps. It is important to ensure that EaP policy connects countries and people and covers a broad area of issues, including supporting civil society, pluralism and independent media, as well as ensuring gender equality and non-discrimination. As it is likely that the policy will change its course from a one-size-fits-all to a tailor-made approach, it will be crucial to ensure that those wanting to get closer to the EU have this opportunity, adapted to their ambitions and pace.
The European Economic and Social Committee would like to reiterate its commitment to the WTO as the guardian of international trade and a crucible for developing rules and disciplines to ensure fair trade, the liberalisation of trade in goods and services, and transparency in trade-related policy-making.
The EU today faces an increasing demand for a constructive dialogue with civil society on trade, as seen with CETA and TTIP. Domestic advisory groups (DAG) are a great way to connect citizens with trade issues. DAG should responsibly advise on all aspects of EU Trade Agreements.
Domestic advisory groups should be advisory, consultative, institutionalized and competent to cover all provisions of FTAs.
The EESC considers that the participation of civil society in all FTAs is an indispensable element in the strategic ambitions of the external policies of the EU.
The EESC considers its participation in DAGs valuable and wishes to continue to be part of all of them.
The EESC asks budgetary authorities for an additional budget to support Domestic Advisory Groups to fulfil the expected work in terms of quantity and quality.
The Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) aims to prepare candidates and potential candidates for the rights and obligations of EU membership. First established for the 2007-2013 programming period, under the 2014–2020 MFF it is called IPA II. Its beneficiaries include the Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Turkey. The proposed financial envelope for IPA III for the period 2021-2027 accounts for a 13 % increase compared to current IPA II funding, or €14.5 billion in current prices. The general objective of the IPA is to support EU aspirants to adopt and implement all reforms (political, institutional, legal, administrative, social and economic) required to comply with EU’s values and to progressively align to EU rules, standards policies and practices on their path towards EU membership.
This proposal is part of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) outlined in the European Commission’s Communication ‘A modern Budget for a Union that Protects, Empowers and Defends – The Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027’. On 14 June 2018 the European Commission presented the budget for the external action of the European Union, which includes and the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) and the European Instrument for Nuclear Safety.
The EU has one of the world's most open investment regimes, and collectively EU Member States have the fewest restrictions in the world on foreign direct investment (FDI). The OECD expressly acknowledged this in its FDI Regulatory Restrictiveness Index which measures statutory barriers against foreign investment in over 60 countries.
The Commission's reflection paper of 10 May 2017 on Harnessing Globalisation recognised increasing concerns about foreign investors' strategic acquisitions of European companies with key technologies. These concerns called into question the capacity of the current regulatory framework to address them.
At the request of the future Bulgarian presidency of the Council of the EU (January-June 2018), the EESC was asked to prepare an exploratory opinion on the challenges and priorities countries of the Western Balkans are facing in the European integration process, as well as in the area of economic and social cohesion. Western Balkans will be one of the policy priorities of the Bulgarian presidency and a Western Balkans Summit is scheduled to take place in May 2018 in Sofia.
L’année 2017 sera décisive pour le partenariat entre l’Europe et l’Afrique. Dans un paysage mondial en mutation rapide, l’Afrique connaît de profonds changements économiques, politiques et sociaux, et l’importance qu’elle revêt pour les dimensions intérieure et extérieure de la sécurité et de la prospérité de l’Europe est de plus en plus évidente. L’Europe et l’Afrique ont tout à gagner d’un renforcement de leurs liens politiques et économiques, mais elles ont aussi beaucoup à perdre si elles n’agissent pas.
The EESC has played an important role in raising awareness of EU trade policy among civil society both in the EU and in third countries. The EESC encourages the Commission to strengthen its dialogue with civil society to develop the functioning of TSD chapters in current and future trade agreements. However, the EESC urges the Commission to be more ambitious in its approach, in particular with respect to strengthening effective enforceability of the commitments in TSD chapters, which is of crucial importance to the EESC. TSD chapters must be given equal weight to those covering commercial, technical or tariff issues.