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The European Union and Japan have had a strategic economic partnership in foreign and economy policy since 1991, when of a joint declaration on relations between the EC and its member states with Japan was adopted. In 2013, the EU launched negotiations for a strategic partnership agreement and a free trade agreement (in the car industry). In 2014, the 22nd Summit took place, launching dialogues focused on cyber-security and space; these summits are held annually.

Japan is facing a big challenge regarding how it is to introduce more companies into China and the EU and expand their profits. At the same time, they have problems with a declining population growth and death ratio, which stands at around 20%. Japan needs to improve their environmental principle on agreements, as IKEA moved out of Japan owing to its regulatory agreement, which presents difficulties for other big firms; we can see that they are working on reforms of their regulatory agreement, because three years ago IKEA tried to re-establish their presence in Japan.

The European Union is trying to make a deal on a free trade agreement (regulatory and trade issues) and on a strategic partnership agreement. However, if one country violates one agreement, then the other partner state in that agreement can terminate any further cooperation (for example, violation of Human rights). In addition, the EU is using a flexible definition of democracy in agreements with Asian countries, because in the case of Japan there is still the death penalty, which has been abolished in Europe.

The EU can make agreements directed at geopolitical goals, such as those exemplified in the Marshall plan. The main goal is to enforce European integration.

There is a problematic issue when the European Union makes an agreement or proposal; they have to be sent to each member state of the EU and ratified – but because our politicians are afraid that these proposals could somehow endanger their position, they tend to reject them no matter how important they may be.

We concluded that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is one agreement in all, which can be subdivided into state-to-state agreements – but this is a very difficult process by which to achieve a common agreement, when you have 162 members to deal with. Owing to this, Europe tries to achieve state-to-state agreements and use one strength of the EU, that it is formed of ‘only’ 27 states.

There are external actions of the EU which are different, depending on in which country the European Union has the agreements; the EU has at present, JEUFTA, TTP, TTIP and RCEP agreements.

*Talk with Frederik Ponjaert, Researcher and Lecturer, IEE-ULB, on the topic ‘EU and the ChangingGlobal Economic System: New Emerging Economic Governance and Competitive Regionalism in Focus’, held at Brussels, Belgium and provided by Global Learning