EU Japan relations
In 1970, the Commission started to officially negotiate trade agreements with Japan on behalf of the Member States. In the beginning, the main issues concerned the question of how to cope with the surge of Japanese exports into the Common Market and how to improve access of European products to Japan. Although the trade imbalance and difficulties of market access remained, the mood became more cooperative in the 1990s. As both Japan and the EU share similar interests in the world trade system and confront similar challenges at home and abroad, it definitely makes much sense to align forces. However, there have been little substantive bilateral initiatives beyond joint declarations and the setting up of various forums or roundtables. The EU and Japan are presently negotiating a comprehensive free trade agreement, which might provide for a new momentum in bilateral relations.
"EU-Japan relations, 1970-2012: From Confrontation to Global Partnership" is the title of a book jointly edited with Joern Keck and Dimitri Vanoverbeke. It recounts and analyses more than 40 years of EU Japan relations. 14 of the 16 chapters of the book are written by former or still active officials of the European Commission involved in negotiations with Japan. The publication provides the first comprehensive insider account of the bilateral relationship, though be it from a European perspective. For further information click here.
EU regulations - risks and opportunities also for Japanese companies
The EU is an important regulator. The relevance of EU regulations in the field of energy markets, environmental and consumer protection, acounting standards, anti-trust or financial regulation is not constrained to its internal market. New EU regulations have often served as a model that other countries decided to emulate.
It is essential for globally operating companies that they not only follow legislative initiatives in the EU, but actively participate in law making processes to protect their business interests. As part of its "better regulation" initiative, the Commission encourages corporations - no matter where their headquarters are - to voice their opinions and to contribute their know-how to enhance the quality of rule setting.
The book "Successfully Lobbying in the New Europe" (2006) jointly written with Klemens Joos and also published in Japanese, looked at how Japanese companies represent their interests in the EU. It turned out that they take a rather passive stance, focusing on monitoring and acting through their respective Japanese industry associations. The attitude seems to have little changed since then. Japanese companies are missing out opportunities to better engage themselves in EU legislative processes. They do not manage the risks inherent in such processes sufficiently well. The argument is also made in a Japanese paper written jointly with Tomonaga Horiguchi and published in Osaka City University Business Review 2008.