Derailing the EU-Japan trade talks?

As the EU member states now take stock of the EU-Japan trade talks ahead of a coming summit, Patrick Messerlin looks at one of its most difficult issues: Government procurement and the railway sector. The Japanese railway sector is organized in a radically different manner than in the EU: the three major Japanese passenger rail companies are totally privatized, and not operating under government licenses like in Europe. Still, the EU rail equipment industry argues that the Japanese companies should be covered by government procurement rules, which would set a dangerous precedence and open for similar claims against Europe's unbundled former monopolies, e.g. telecom operators. The FTA negotiations are complicated - but if they are done right, they also offer more opportunities for both Japanese and EU railway companies in a global world.

In focus

Next-generation trade defence: government-sponsored patent funds?

While there is an increasing interest for FTA disciplines that restricts state-owned enterprises, there is less debate on governments using intellectual property to engage in discriminatory industrial policy against foreign competition. A new report by Patrick Messerlin and Hosuk Lee-Makiyama points to how some SPFs, like France Brevets, even admit to being retaliatory or discriminatory instruments against foreign actors regardless of whether the original claim is legitimate or not. Such use of patents threatens to become a new trade defence instrument.

Investing in Obesity Treatment would Reduce Healthcare Spending

The obesity rate is growing fast – in Europe and around the world – and no government has effective policies for preventing obesity to increase healthcare expenditures. Yet while governments have been slow to react, medical scientists have now a good view of “what works” and “what doesn’t work” in policies to reduce obesity. A new study by ECIPE economists estimates that European countries stand to make huge savings in future healthcare expenditures if they use effective lifestyle weight management programmes to treat obesity today. If governments invest in smart obesity treatment, the UK and Spain could reduce healthcare expenditures related to obesity in 2030 by 10 and 12 percent. Germany could save around 6 percent while Sweden could “save” as much as 55 percent of future healthcare expenditures related to obesity.

How Can Europe Respond to an Authoritarian Russia?

Russia’s invasion of Crimea has sent shock waves through the international community but is not surprising in light of the Kremlin’s authoritarian and imperialistic ideology. As was shown in two papers by Fredrik Erixon and Iana Dreyer, Russia has been building military and economic statecraft on the back of its energy riches – and the EU has been far too weak to diminish its economic dependency on Russia. Broad economic sanctions by the EU is therefore highly unlikely, even if Russia’s investment in and export to Europe is so big that sanctions could put Russia Inc out of business. As Hosuk Lee-Makiyama has argued, economic sanctions usually do not work. And what it is important now for the EU, in addition to shaping a response to the Crimean occupation, is to reshape its approach to Russia with the effect of cutting its dependency on an authoritarian regime.

Immigration and Labour-market Integration

While the debate about immigration in Europe is heating up immigration is likely to continue its growth because of low birth rates and increased longevity. But what could be done to boost labour-market participation among immigrants? In a new study examining possible factors behind the difference in rates of participation on the labour market between immigrants and native-born people, economist Andreas Bergh finds two patterns of statistical significance. First, welfare state generosity keeps immigrants away from the labour force. Second, given that immigrants enter the labour force, collective bargaining agreements explain higher incidence of immigrant unemployment.

Ill fares the ITA. Again.

Another attempt to update the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) seems to have failed after China declaring almost half of the new product list as politically sensitive and requested exemptions or lengthy phase-out periods. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama with Lisa Brandt read a funeral litany over the negotiations and ask the question whether China is ready for the free trade agreements it wants, and what modern trade agreements entail in terms of concessions and managing domestic protectionist interests. 

Latest Publications

ECIPE Policy Brief No. 06/2014
Sovereign Patent Funds (SPFs): Next-generation trade defence?
By Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Patrick Messerlin
Summary | Download (PDF)

ECIPE Occasional Paper No. 06/2014
Cities and the Wealth of Nations: How can Helsinki, London, Paris and Stockholm prosper from TTIP?
By Fredrik Erixon, Martina Francesca Ferracane
Summary | Download (PDF)

ECIPE Occasional Paper No. 05/2014
Demystifying Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)
By Fredrik Erixon, Roderick Abbott, Martina Francesca Ferracane
Summary | Download (PDF)

ECIPE Policy Brief No. 05/2014
The Problematic Politics of China’s Economic Reform Plans
By Guy de Jonquières
Summary | Download (PDF)

ECIPE Bulletin No. 11/2014
The Impact of Data Localisation on Vietnam’s Economy
By Bert Verschelde
Summary | Download (PDF)


Upcoming Events

2014-09-25
ECIPE Seminar: The diverging path of French and Korean film industries: Lessons on audiovisual policy
In the last two years, the French audiovisual sector has witnessed an intense fight between the defensive and traditional vested interests against new forces that are eager to seize the opportunities presented by digital technology – This debate is taking place against a stagnating domestic market share of French movies despite a doubling of public subsidies. Based on some new exhaustive data, Patrick Messerlin’s new report assesses the failure of the current French audiovisual policy – from both an economic and cultural perspective.
Speakers: Patrick Messerlin, Jimmyn Parc
More information

Past events


Articles, Opinion and Commentary

2014-08-18
Video: How cities can benefit from urbanization
Razeen Sally was the lead author and coordinator of a major report for the World Economic Forum on the competitiveness of cities. He was Chair of the WEF's Global Agenda Council on Competitiveness in 2013-14

2014-08-13
The Competitiveness of Cities
Razeen Sally was the lead author and coordinator of a major report for the World Economic Forum on the competitiveness of cities. He was Chair of the WEF's Global Agenda Council on Competitiveness in 2013-14

2014-08-11
China and Europe to Set Their Relations on a Different Course?
Fredrik Erixon takes stock in the Boao Review of Sino-European relations

2014-08-08
Can mega-regionals deliver the goods?
Razeen Sally writes on the 'big-block trade agreements' in The Strait

2014-08-06
EU wants Ukraine's Money, not its War
Fredrik Erixon opines in the Moscow Times about Ukraine's economic integration with the EU

More articles