Category: Events-reports

EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Stakes for a constructive balance of power

By Philippe Coste, Pierre-Noël Giraud, Stéphane Gompertz, Henri de Grossouvre, Fatima Hadj, Brice Lalonde, François Loos, François Quentin, Joël Ruet, Raphaël Schoentgen, Alex Wang, avec Clarisse Comte et Claire Thomas.

After seven years of negotiations, the European Union and China reached an investment agreement on December 30, 2020. While Beijing sees in it the promotion of a “high degree of openness”, the EU aspires through this treaty to establish the long sought after “equality of market conditions”.

To carry out this project, a balance between the strategic interests of each side and common objectives on which to agree remains to be found… just as it remains to find avenues for concrete action.

Find the analysis note in French :2021-03-Issue-Brief-UE-CHINETélécharger

• This treaty provides for the intensification of economic and trade relations between the EU and China. It guarantees EU investors greater access to China and also helps to create more balanced conditions of competition.

• Areas of collaboration are proposed here, in various fileds : political (place of China in international organizations, global governance), legal (international standards, ESG), industrial (mobility, decarbonisation, role of SMEs), economic, environmental, scientific , technological (energy transition, carbon capture, hydrogen, nuclear, new energies), financial (coordinated introduction of carbon prices) and cultural.

• For the EU, it is above all a matter of asserting its strategic interests in a coordinated manner with the member countries during the ratification process.

The long-term issues of technological sovereignty, of competition between blocs, all possible causes of “stop and go” in bilateral relations must be seriously dealt with.

Despite the identified obstacles, maintaining an open but precise dialogue between the EU and China is essential. The European Union must continue its transformation and ensure respect for its increase in diplomatic power both within the EU and in its relationship with China: beyond state-to-state relations, it is up to the EU in as a community to negotiate the terms of a new bilateral relationship with China. It is in this way that it will confirm its status as a “balancing power”.

Meeting between Hakima El Haite, President of the Liberal International and Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara

Hakima El Haite, President of Liberal International and member of the Bridge Tank’s board, had a private audience with Alassane Ouattara, the Ivorian President, on the 15th of December 2020. This event took place aside from Alassane Ouattara’s re-election and investiture as president, after his campaign as the candidate of the Rally of Republicans. He is also the leader of this party. They exchanged about the activities of the Liberal International, as well as about the development perspectives of Côte d’Ivoire.

Liberal International is the world federation of liberal and progressive democratic political parties. Recently, it notably called for democracy and human rights to be respected in the Ugandan elections and called on the United Nations’ Commission on the Status of Women to condemn violence against Egyptian women human rights defenders.

Liberal forum for political dialogue: freedom of the press and the fight against fake news in the digital age

El Hadj Kasse, member of the Bridge Tank’s board, was one of the keynote speakers of the Liberal Forum of Political Dialogue dedicated to the freedom of the press and the fight against fake news during the digital age. This event took place on the 7th of December 2020 in Dakar, Senegal. 

Among the other keynote speakers were Seydou Gueye, Spokesperson and Communications Coordinator for the presidency of the Republic, Mamadou Ibra Kane, Director General of the Future Media Group, and Mame Less Camara, Director of Information for the Future Media group.

Conference: being a social democrat in Africa

Martin Ziguélé, former Prime Minister of the Central African Republic, took part in the Bridge Tank’s conversation about being social democrat in Africa. He discussed with Joël Ruet and Stéphane Gompertz, former French Ambassador to Austria and Ethiopia and Africa Director at the Quai d’Orsay, about various subjects, including social justice, public finances, COVID-19 and Russia. Martin Ziguélé highlighted his political and financial experiences and how these would be an advantage to run for the presidency. He also underlined how important the fight against corruption was to him. He also mentioned the need for his country to develop and invest in education, especially after higher education, as well as secure the possession of fire weapons. Martin Ziguélé also called for more communication between African states, so that the voices of smaller or less economically developed countries can still be heard. He eventually called for the respect of the rule limiting the number of presidential mandates in other African states. This talk took place on the 17th of November 2020.

Around George Papandreou, Madeleine Albright and several Foreign Affairs and Prime Ministers, the 22nd Symi Symposium invented the “Hybrid Forum”

July 26th-30th, the progressive family resumed meeting, to discuss the current global and US situation, the future of Europe, and topics such as the lifelong learning systems, narratives of wars and progressive movements of care, energy renaissance, the Balkans, the BRICS. Striking a balance: both in person, the good old way, and through Zoom, the good new way.

Despite the pandemic and other shut borders odds, the Symi Symposium, annually organized by the Andreas Papandreou Foundation, could this year again gather George Papandreou’s political and academic, influencers, friends. Since 2017, The Bridge Tank is being part of what this year was perhaps the first “Hybrid Forum”: a fine combination of core in-house, closed doors debates with tailored amount of Zoom exchanges with leaders such as f. Secretary Madeleine Albright, NATO’s Dy SG Geona, f. Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd or Colette Avital former Presidential candidate in Israel.

Madeleine Albright from DC, George Papandreou from Symi Symposium and Colette Avital from Israel

Symi Symposium conversations take place under the aegis of the “Chatham House” rules; not disclosing the positions of various speakers, topics revolved around pressing issues: with Madeleine Albright and later with Richard Parker from Harvard on the growing understanding that racism in America has something “systemic”, and how generally speaking the US situation relates to the agony of an age when Americans were 80% rooted in American-European white population, now evolving towards a 4-5 streams of populations origins trying to organise a domestic polity; the US now stand at a point where they have to internally negotiate new political alliances: this might possibly be one root of America giving the impression it is now in a mess.

As Greece now chairs the Council of Europe, this edition was additionally a week long opportunity to discuss current issues with
Frank Schwabe, Chairman of the Socialists, Democrats and Greens Group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, or Francesca Abrogast, Executive Secretary of the Group.

Frank Schwabe’s speech following George Papandreou’s welcome
Francesca Abrogast, here with Denis MacShanne, who was Tony Blair’s Minister for Europe

We also had the usual Symi Symposium conversations with leaders in the Balkans or struggling progressives of different parts of the world, such as Isadora Zubillaga from Venezuela, the Special Representative in Paris of Juan Guaido. Conversations with leaders who have just emerged out of democratic struggles (North Macedonia), or who are now into these (Venezuela) attested that “Democracy is the longest meeting”. In this line, Joel Ruet from the Bridge Tank advocated for a continued discussion with the weavers within all systems.

Isadora Zubillaga, vice foreign Affairs Minister in Guaido’s “Government in charge” from Venezuela, Radmilla Shekerinska, Minister for Defense, North Macedonia, George Papandreou, former Prime Minister of Greece and President of the Socialist International, and Joel Ruet, President, The Bridge Tank.

During the same session, a special conversation with Mircea Geoana gave us the sense that NATO’s Secretariat is quite active at foresight on the risks and threats of the future.

We also discussed the pandemic development through the lens of lifelong learning systems, over three time horizons: so far the reaction against the Covid was a “Defense”, we’ll now need to “Exit” this temporary space and actively prepare to engaging into transformation, e.g. “Enlarging” humanness of systems. On all issues with no boundaries, a care Leadership has to emerge through the right bundle of community, participative democracy, technology, and an Education designed for world and life, not just for jobs. Economics too need to be mobilized: in the eve of automation, how shall robots contribute into revenue, and revenue support a “positive idleness”, that is not a pure ensure but contribution to the society.

It is all the more important to continue this work and not to be blinded by strategic competition, frictions and gaps, but rather recognizing at areas of strategic collaborations: Covid, climate, finance cooperation. The Symposium closed with ground for optimism, noting that in the long course of Energy history, for instance, the world sees the first policy driven energy transformation. It si in a great way also industry-driven and transition has to be Just with a real energy-society integration by policy; this may serves as a case study for a larger renewed Social contract.

Last but not least, Symi was also the occasion to continue exchanging ideas beyond the sessions.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and now Member of Constitutional Court Erick Derycke, Mrs Dericke, and Joel Ruet

Joel Ruet, Chairman The Bridge Tank

NB: This post is only a personal reflexion on the event and discussions and does not bind in anyway the organizers nor any participant. Quotes are not necessarily attributable to any of the participants, nor to the persons mentioned in this post, but are rather reformulations of some formulas that may have circulated in the forum at some point. 

The joint launch of the EU Hydrogen and EU energy integration strategies, along the industry’s clean hydrogen alliance, suggest Europe is ready to build a world-class energy transition advantage

EU’s Policy making seldom shows such a great coordination across the Union, member states, regions, across different policies and between policy makers and the industry. The 8th of July of 2020 was a landmark announcement that could face up Asian leadership ambitions. This demonstrates the cohesive strength of the European construction, the next frontier being of course an energy transition that is just, inclusive, and participative in process.

Analysing EU’s Hydrogen strategy

By Joël Ruet & Antoine Goutaland – On 8th July 2020, the European Commission unveiled a 3-phases plan for Hydrogen. This is a landmark announcement for European industry with a common industrial project that could face up Asian leadership ambitions. The 3 phases consist in: (1) Enabling framework conditions for large 100 MW-range electrolyzers, and wind and solar plants dedicated to GW- scale RE H2 production before 2030, (2) Negotiations for ETS phase 4 to target renewable H2 becoming cost-competitive, to fossil fuel sector, (3) Renewable electricity production needs to massively increase as about a quarter of renewable electricity might be used for renewable hydrogen production by 2050.

Download our report:

Global Think Tanks Forum on Health in Global Governance – The Bridge Tank – Chinese Academy of Contemporary Studies

The Bridge Tank and the Chinese Academy of Contemporary Studies co-hosted with the Fondation Getulio Vargas of Brazil and the Russian Academy the Sub-Forum on Health in Global Governance, a sub-Forum of the Forum on Global Governance: the main Forum had speakers like Ban ki Moon, Nobel Prize Joseph Stiglitz, President Danilo Turk or Prime Minister Fukuyama Yasuo.

How does the pandemic impact the competition between the United States and China?

An Issue Brief, by Ambassador Philippe COSTE.  

Tensions between the two competitors are escalating, China’s situation vis-à-vis the United States is likely to strengthen and global governance is even more severely lacking than in the past, calling for more of European contruction. 

Download the French text 

► Not only the two powers which hold in their hands a good part of the fate of the planet show themselves little penetrated by their responsibilities towards multilateral insttutions, but everything happens as if the latter have become the closed field of a struggle for influence between the two superpowers. 

► Nevertheless the appreciation of a China that would have gained a relative advantage needs to be qualified. Before the “mask diplomacy”, the Europeans were divided with regard to China: a little wary but very interested in continuing to do business with this country of cocagne. Since then, the proportions have been reversed: Europeans are still interested in doing business but are clearly more suspicious.  

► It is only more urgent that Europe, mobilizes itself even more energetically to call the world to reason. Obviously, between the disputes over Brexit and those over financial solidarity between countries of the North and the South, and with the overwhelming short-term deadlines which beset European governments, the task is not easy, to say the least. But that is not a reason not to try it, with faith and persistency, as it is the only possible way.

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