EUROPEAN THINK-TANK REVIEW – III

Written by | Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
European Values

Can TTIP Be an ‘Economic NATO’?
Trine Flockhart (Danish Institute for International Studies)

Transatlantic relations have been around for many decades, maintained through the complex and multifaceted networks of various institutions, which were always clearly dominated by security dimension, represented by cooperation in NATO. It seems recently that this defensive character of the relations has been declining in terms of its importance. On the contrary, the negotiations on the agreement on transatlantic trade and investment between the EU and the USA (TTIP), more commonly known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Area, have been taking place. The question is whether this emerging trade agreement will breathe new life into the troubled relations (wiretapping scandal) while shifting the emphasis from defense and security to trade and investment.

The revival of trade relations today cannot occur simply by blindly following of the U.S. as it was in the past. The time has come to admit that the EU and the U.S. have different security interests and this is why it will be necessary to use other methods and solutions within the international system. Such a development, however, must not be seen as a threat to transatlantic relations, but it should be welcome as a sign of a healthy relationship between two adult partners. Europe and America are facing common destiny, and that is the gradual relative loss of economic strength. In that case, TTIP could represent an excellent way, especially through common standards and regulations, how to institute an economic recovery on both sides of the Atlantic.

In a world where the U.S. is increasingly turning to Asia and where the Europeans want to spend less on defense, not further transatlantic unity can be maintained only through the defense alliance. We are moving from a situation where the relationship demanded absolute unity in security matters and provided room for disagreement on trade issues in an exactly reversed situation. What is needed now is a greater flexibility in the defense matters and more interconnected relations in trade and investment. This shift is necessary in order to maintain the transatlantic relationship well into the 21th century and beyond.

EU-India: A Vital Partnership in a Changing World
John Pollock (Friends of Europe)

The Europe India Chamber of Commerce (EICC) Trade & Investment Partnership Summit that took place earlier this year marked 50 years of EU-India economic relations. Europe and India are natural partners not only because of their intertwined history, but also because of their shared values, such as a pluralistic, multicultural society. Although the full potential of the relationship has not yet developed and the negotiations about free trade between the EU and India have not significantly advanced, both partners have efficiently developed cooperation in other areas. Of particular importance is their cooperation in multilateral groupings, especially the G20, where both regularly contribute to addressing the challenges of international diplomacy, especially the current security challenges in Iran and Syria.

However, due to some unfavourable circumstances, mutual relations have cooled down recently, though the fault lies on both sides. Due to the ongoing financial crisis, Europe is primarily preoccupied with their domestic problems, while the Indians have so far failed to establish a parliamentary delegation, which could engage in negotiations with partners in the European Parliament.

India could serve very well as a bridge between East and West and offer a wide range of opportunities for the European investors, especially in developing rural areas. There is demand mainly for industrial production technology for water purification and construction of the infrastructure. Thanks to the European experience with water management, waste disposal and environmental policy, the European Union can contribute to the development of rural India. The cooperation of both partners should focus on crisis management, food processing and especially agriculture. India could also help to solve the European problem of facing shortage of skilled labour in engineering and medicine.

India is often compared to an elephant, which is animal that is slow, but very powerful and with a good memory. Due to the enormous size of its territory, India will take longer to implement appropriate reforms, streamline the existing legislation and clarify its position on some international issues.  Once this change occurs, Europe and rest of the world will find a very strong partner in India.

British Balance of Competence Reviews, Part I: ‘Competences about Right, so Far’
Michael Emerson a Steven Blockmans (European Policy Institutes Network)
The UK’s planned referendum on continued membership in the European Union will be held in 2017. The British government decided to issue a total of 32 reports until 2015 evaluating the degree of transfer of competencies to the EU in order to establish a basis for a public debate before the referendum. The first six of these reports (each about 80 pages) has already been issued. Each of the six reports is dealing with one sector of European legislation: foreign policy, development policy, taxation, single internal market, food safety and public health.

Emerson a Blockmans, the authors of this study, reviewed the British government-commissioned reports and tend to believe that MPs who wrote the reports, commented objectively on the matters at hand. However, the resistance to British reports from the side of local media illustrates the immense divisions between public opinion on the one hand and the opinion of other interest groups on the other, which are actually in touch with European legislation on a daily basis. British reports, if objective and prepared in a high professional quality, can be a useful tool against the growing wave of Euroscepticism within and outside the UK. All six reports conclude that British actors have no reason to require significant repatriation of powers or other opt-outs. Even in foreign policy, after the assessment of the advantages and disadvantages, Britain is better off by working within and through the EU.

But so far only six reports have been released. Those sensitive to the budgetary area, agriculture and social policy are just about to come out and quite possibly will be much more critical to the current setting of EU powers.

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