The Conference on the Future of Europe was to be launched on 9 May 2020 to debate the EU’s priorities, institutional matters and democratic processes. Despite its delay due to the COVID-19 crisis, discussion of the EU’s democratic functioning is ongoing. This EIPA Paper seeks to shed light on one element in EU law-making that is under scrutiny, namely the exercise of the European Commission’s ‘right of initiative’.
The election of Donald Trump and the growing assertiveness of China have raised a double challenge to the EU’s Common Commercial Policy (CCP). Since the WTO failed to deliver on strengthening a global rules-based system through the Doha round, the EU and the US became the main promoters of further trade liberalisation outside the WTO framework. Thus, when the new US administration turned its back on free trade in 2017, not only did the EU lose its main ally; it also had to face the potential threat of a meltdown of the multilateral trade order. Whereas China has been eager to fill the vacuum left by the US and to actively shape global trade rules, its understanding of ‘free and fair trade’ significantly differs from that of the EU.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently under negotiation between the EU and the US continues to divide public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. As the public became aware of the multiple dimensions of this proposed agreement, one feature proved to be particularly explosive: the inclusion of a mechanism known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that would give foreign investors the right to legally challenge actions of sovereign states if these actions were seen as violating the rights of the investors.
The EU enlargement engine seems to have run out of political steam. Support within the member states for future enlargement is at all-time low, while some of the candidate countries have also seemed to put the enlargement process on the backburner. However, at least rhetorically, the EU is still committed to the enlargement process and maintains its entire enlargement tool box, such as the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) – one of the most important EU external financial instruments. The new IPA regulation (IPA II), adopted in March 2014, clearly reflects the fact that the enlargement process is on a holding pattern.
Negotiating in the Council of the European Union poses some challenges that are common to most international negotiations but there are other dimensions that are a lot more specific. In order to understand better the specific nature of negotiations on a European level and to develop some practical guidelines for European negotiators, it is important to situate European negotiationsin the more general context of the theory on international relations and to remember that European negotiations are governed by the general principles which characterise the negotiation theory.
The purpose of this brief is to examine whether HR/VP Ashtons’s Proposal for a Council decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the European External Action Service (EEAS) of March 2010 is in legal accordance with the stipulations of the Lisbon Treaty on development cooperation.