The EU-US trade partnership is the largest bilateral trade and investment relationship between the largest economies in the world (the EU economy accounts for 25.1% of global GDP and the US one represents 21.6%). Although bilateral, the EU-US trade partnership heavily impacts the global economy given that the EU or the US (or both) are the most important business partners for most countries worldwide. Furthermore, although the role of China as the EU’s import source for goods has greatly expanded in the last years, the US remains the EU’s largest trade and investment partner.
After the tensions characterizing the “Trump era” (e.g., US tariffs imposed on EU steel and aluminium recently suspended for a two-year period), the EU-US partnership on trade seems to be experiencing its “Renaissance”. The new Biden administration may provide a chance for a renovated transatlantic partnership, centred on cooperation over global challenges such as climate change and the concerns originating from the digitalisation of the economy. With regard to the latter issue, the EU-US Trade and Technology Council (EU-US TTC), established in June 2021 following an EU-US Summit, proves the improvement in the EU-US relation. In particular, one of the Council’s main goals is to strengthen the EU-US global cooperation on technology, digital issues and supply chains. The summit served to reiterate the EU-US commitment over the reform of the WTO’s negotiating function and dispute settlement system. Nonetheless, as will be extensively illustrated in the following, tensions do not seem to have been dispelled completely (e.g., the suspension of aluminium and steel tariffs is only temporary).
After four years of turbulent discussions and 1,400 pages of complex provisions, the EU and the UK (the “Parties”) signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on 24 December 2020. Now that the much-feared risk of a no-deal Brexit seems to have been avoided, it could be high time to start digging into the details of the TCA and critically assess whether it is an effective and all-encompassing regulation or just a “platform” created in view of future negotiations and developments in the EU/UK (trading) relationships.
Eva Pander Maat
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), concluded on Christmas Eve 2020 between the EU and the UK, is a unique trade agreement in that its objective is divergence, instead of convergence. It represents the culmination, but by no means the end of four years of Brexit turmoil. To what extent such turmoil will continue to dominate EU-UK relations will partly depend on the extent to which Parties use the TCA as a floor or a ceiling.
To help comprehend the 1,400 page Agreement, five experts provided their guidance to the TCA in the Webinar ‘The UK & the EU Relationship: What Next?’ on January 27, 2021. This event was the first in a promising cooperation between the Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law, City, University of London and the Senior European Experts Group (SEE). The event was moderated by Sir Alan Dashwood, barrister and Professor Emeritus of European Law at University of Cambridge and Professor Emeritus of Law at City, University of London. This blog post revisits key points raised during the Webinar and summarizes its conclusions. Drawing on the expertise and experience of the experts, the blog post discusses five different aspects of the TCA: respectively, the legal aspects, trade and internal market regulation, agriculture and fisheries, the EU perspective and the political dimension.
‘Sustainable finance’ and ‘green finance’ are terms used, often interchangeably, to cover a plethora of financial products aimed at supporting green and sustainable projects and activities. The dominant focus of green finance over the last two decades has been the mobilisation of funds for clean energy and low-emission land transportation, yet the Covid-19 pandemic is steering the focus away from environmental issues to the social and economic pillars of the sustainable development triage. Momentum for ‘sustainable finance’, covering a much wider range of environmental and social governance (ESG) factors, has been propelled in 2020 in what has been described a ‘watershed’ year for ESG investing. This is largely due to the rise of ‘woke’ millennial investors coupled with steady returns on ESG investments which are holding up strongly during the pandemic. The European Union has also been paying attention to the growing surge in ESG investments and has aligned climate change objectives with its post-pandemic recovery plan. The European Union is set to sell 225 billion euros of green bonds as part of its pandemic recovery fund, whilst its 100 billion euros SURE unemployment scheme is set to be fully funded by social bonds. However, sustainable finance is not without its own set of criticisms. From a legal perspective, sustainable or green finance presents both regulatory issues and resultant challenges for private law implementation and enforcement.