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Project Trends

The project stands at the confluence of two major issues for the European Union, in terms of internal policies as well as external actions:

  1. the position and role of the European Union in the World and
  2. the present and future of Human Rights.

The first issue, on liberal civil society and the various types of market-enhanced economies, brings concerns such as the World Trade Organization put forth recently when rebuking China’s application to be reckoned as a “market economy”. It relates to the new partnerships that the European Union is building with China in the globalized World and in the aftermath of the sovereign debt crisis. Our project is comparative as it focuses both on relationships between the European Union and China in particular, and accommodates viewpoints from China’s neighbor Japan.

The second issue, involving the present enforcement and future potential implementation and/or revision of Human Rights concepts, is addressed by focusing principally on the political, legal and economic aspects of the concept of Liberalism, regarded as made of several traditions, from social liberalism to liberal theories of economics. The project thus aims at disclosing cultural and political differences in terms of interpretation and of enforcement of “Liberalism” in Europe and in China today. We discuss in detail theories called “liberal”, building conceptual tools and types of criterion useful for that comparison.

Discussing those issues is all the more urgent that the recent global economic crisis has enhanced earlier temptations, on both sides of the Atlantic, to incriminate third parties. Globalization is often identified as the culprit for allowing competitive Asian companies to slow down European growth and for having created unemployment in Europe while Chinese counterparts affirm that European social benefits are responsible for European debt crisis and need a severe readjustment. Both the European Union and China will benefit from a better understanding of each other and from revising some of their mutual assumptions. New economic, political and juridical realities call for such an assessment, provided that the adequate evaluating criteria are presented.

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