Exclusive Interview: Japan’s Ambassador to the EU provides insight on future Euro-Japanese cooperation

The recent withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the halt in the Euro-American TTIP negotiations, the Brexit process and all the burgeoning voices worldwide demanding stronger protections of their special interests are signs of a general deterioration of trust in international trade (we predicted such changes back in 2016).  Continue Reading

Is Belgian MEP Rolin actually more progressive than his political group, the EPP?

As our previous report on the ‘unusual’ voting behavior of the Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen showcased, the positions taken by EU Parliamentarians sometimes diverge from the official lines of their political groups.

Indeed, the political affiliation of MEPs is not the only factor that shapes their voting behavior. There are many other factors that influence MEPs’ behavior, such as their nationality, personal background and beliefs. Continue Reading

Exclusive interview: Brazil’s Ambassador to EU on the future of EU-Mercosur relations

 Against the background of rising trade protectionism (which led to the deadlock of the EU-US trade deal – TTIP), the Europeans try to look for traction elsewhere. After 17 years since the negotiations between the EU and Mercosur started, all the cards are finally on the table.  With a market of more than 250 million people, Mercosur is gaining more and more the attention of the European investors.  Continue Reading

How did Belgian EU Parliamentarians vote on social rights?

VoteWatch Europe combined its political expertise with its dataset on the voting records in the EP to analyse how Belgian European Parliamentarians positioned themselves on several economic and social issues, ranging from the introduction of a European minimum wage to the establishment of an Eurozone budget. This report was commissioned by the Belgian Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (ACV-CSC) with the purpose of tracking the voting behaviour of Belgian MEPs on social rightsContinue Reading

Is Belgium’s Internal Divide Reflected in European Politics?

The Walloons are from Venus, the Flemish from Mars. Is it true what they say? Are the Belgians divided, and if yes, is this reflected when they take part in decisions made at the EU level? This report provides a comparative perspective of the positions taken by Belgian EU Parliamentarians on key issues voted recently in the European Parliament.

Please note that this is not a survey: we took into account the actual decisions made by Belgian MEPs, not merely opinions or carefully crafted political statements. Continue Reading

Who are the EU Parliamentarians that shape EU’s trade policy?

Key recent developments, such as the blockade of CETA by Wallonia and the triumph of protectionism in American Presidential elections (which is likely to ditch TTIP), highlight the need for those who work on trade to understand how politics affects their side of the business. In order to predict and to prevent blockages, one has to gain a genuine understanding of the actual views of all relevant political factions and the balance of influence between them. Continue Reading

(Opinion) CETA vs. Wallonia and the city of Brussels: the axes are out

By Doru Frantescu

As the tension is getting close to paroxysm this week, the views expressed by opinion leaders have radicalised. The commentators have become highly polarized between those that blame (the Parliaments of) Wallonia and Brussels for “taking the whole EU as a hostage” and those that defend Wallonia and Brussels by telling to those EU affairs expats who have any complaint about (the city of) Brussels to simply “go back to your own country”. Continue Reading

Lessons to be learnt from CETA’s stalemate

Those who believed this spring that CETA was a done deal now have quite a few things on their hands. The complexity of the EU decision-making and the diverging political interests within it have once again taken the bureaucrats in charge of negotiating the deal by surprise.

This occurrence is a case in point of why one needs to make much broader political calculations when trying to get something approved by the EU decision-making machinery. Continue Reading

Who is for and against free trade in the European Parliament

Which members of the European Parliament – MEPs – are the most in favour of free trade and which, to the contrary, are the most opposed to it? Not necessarily those you might think, our latest VoteWatch Europe study shows.

We have used the European Parliament as object of analysis for two reasons. Firstly, this European institution plays an increasing role in influencing EU’s trade policy. Continue Reading

MEPs back FTA negotiations with Australia and New Zealand

In another move that aims to increase the EU’s leverage on the global market, MEPs last week backed the opening of trade talks with Australia and New Zealand with an overwhelming majority. The only opposition came from the (far) left and the extreme right amid concerns over globalisation. Agriculture and transparency remain thorny issues, however.

This FTA adds one more link to the global trade network that the EU is building and which includes similar deals with the US (TTIP), Canada (CETA), Japan, alongside the already completed FTA with South Korea, and the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement). Continue Reading