European Union Current Affairs

Economic Partnership Agreement: EU, Japan sign massive free trade deal

European Union (EU) and Japan have signed Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). It was signed at EU-Japan summit in Tokyo by EU Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is biggest ever trade deal negotiated by the EU and creates free trade zone covering nearly third of the world’s GDP.

Key Parts of EPA

Agricultural exports: It scraps Japanese duties on many cheeses such as Gouda and Cheddar as well as on wine exports. It allows EU to increase its beef exports to Japan and duty-free trade in pork, processed meat and almost duty-free trade for fresh meat. It ensures protection in Japan of more than 200 high-quality European agricultural products, so called Geographical Indications (GIs), and protection of selection of Japanese GIs in EU.

Services markets: EPA opens up services markets, in particular financial services, e-commerce, telecommunications and transport.

Procurement markets: It guarantees EU companies access to large procurement markets of 48 large Japanese cities and removes obstacles to procurement in economically important railway sector at national level.

Automotive sector: It addresses specific sensitivities of EU in this sector and elimination of customs duties in transition periods of up to 7 years.

Trade and sustainable development: EPA includes comprehensive chapter on it. It sets very high standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection. It strengthens EU and Japan’s commitments on sustainable development and climate change and fully safeguards public services.

Data protection: The negotiations completed by both sides on this matter will complement EPA. Both sides recognise each other’s data protection systems as equivalent, allowing data to flow safely between EU and Japan and creating world’s largest area of safe data flows.

Significance

EPA removes vast majority of €1 billion of duties paid annually by EU companies exporting to Japan and number of long-standing regulatory barriers, for example on cars. It opens up Japanese market of 127 million consumers to key EU agricultural exports and will increase EU export opportunities in range of other sectors. In addition, it will strengthen cooperation between Europe and Japan in range of areas, reaffirm their shared commitment to sustainable development. It also includes for the first time a specific commitment to the Paris climate agreement.

Month: Categories: International Current Affairs 2018

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India, EU ink cooperation agreement to share earth observation data from each other’s satellite

India’s Department of Space (DoS) and European Union (EU) have signed cooperation agreement related to sharing of earth observation satellite data. The agreement aims to strengthen and stimulate cooperation on earth observation and mutual access to data from EU’s Sentinel series of satellites and from Indian earth observation satellites. The data sharing will provide mutual benefits, in particular in pursuit of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Key Facts

Under this arrangement, EU will provide India with free, full and open access to data from Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections from data hub to data hub. Reciprocally, India will provide Copernicus programme and its participating states with free, full and open access to data from ISRO’s earth observation satellites including historical data sets. This comprises data from land, ocean and atmospheric series of ISRO’s civilian satellites (Oceansat-2, Scatsat-1, Megha-Tropiques, SARAL, INSAT-3D, INSAT-3DR) with exception of commercial high-resolution satellites data. The agreement also envisages technical assistance for establishment of high bandwidth connections with ISRO sites, in particular through setting up of mirror servers, data storage and archival facilities.

Copernicus programme

It is the world’s largest single earth observation programme directed by European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA). It aims at achieving global, continuous, autonomous, high quality, wide range Earth observation capacity.

It provides wide range of applications like climate change, ocean, land and atmosphere monitoring as well as support in forecasting, management and mitigation of natural disasters. Its full, free and open data policy has proven its merits and allowed development of thriving user base in Europe and beyond.

Month: Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2018

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