The entry into force of the EPA would have been a remarkable achievement. But the EU and Japan are also celebrating a strategic agreement and a digital agreement that supports the EPA. The EPA was linked to the creation of a secure data flow space between the EU and Japan. On 23 January, the European Commission adopted a adquacy decision on Japan certifying the equivalence of its data protection standards so that the personal data of European citizens can be freely transferred to Japan. The Japanese government has taken a decision on the EU, giving life to an idea of a 21st century agreement. Businesses can now move data between the EU and Japan, creating new opportunities for both digital markets. Second, the agreement provides not only for the handling of bilateral issues, but also for the management of global issues through cooperative actions within the international community. The agreement emphasizes the promotion of common values and principles in international for a or in third countries and, beyond that, a proactive contribution to international peace and stability, including the peaceful settlement of disputes. Each side must make enormous efforts to take coordinated action to address pressing global issues such as the current pandemic, climate change, cybersecurity and peace-building measures. These efforts would have an impact on international decision-making. First, the agreement aims for deep and sustainable cooperation, based on common values and principles, rather than focusing, in a short period of time, on more specific outcomes in certain areas. The OSG clearly cites democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedoms as common core values. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in his September 2019 speech to the EU-Asia Liaison Forum that «our SPA has made us the guardians of universal values,» he added.
«We take responsibility for looking carefully and then putting into practice the types of governance that are desirable, and if we want to establish rules, the type we should define.» There has been an inevitable change in political priority to deal with the global pandemic, including measures to address the ongoing pressure on health systems and economic recovery measures that will continue well after the worst epidemic in their respective countries. However, as noted in the introduction, there is no indication to date that either party has withdrawn with respect to certain aspects of the GSB. Nevertheless, it remains a challenge if each party can motivate the agreement beyond its original priority. The INTER partnership between the EU and Japan should be able to function effectively during this crisis, and some of the following examples, as is already the case, prove. The EU and Japan maintain close contacts, including communications at ministerial level, to exchange information on COVID-19. In addition, both sides maintain the political coordination momentum for other ongoing global challenges through virtual communication. A meeting of senior officials was held on 1 April 2020 to discuss biodiversity and the circular economy at COP15 of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in October 2020 and the Un Environment Assembly (UNA5) in February 2021. One of the drawbacks of the EPA between the EU and Japan is why it was possible to conclude this agreement so quickly and without incident.
In 2016, when the EU was about to sign its agreement with Canada, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), it had a nasty surprise because the Walloon region was opposed to the agreement and threatened to block it. Subsequently, with regard to the free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore, the European Court of Justice decided that its dispute settlement mechanism for investments in shared powers between the EU and Member States was applicable, so that the agreement must be concluded jointly by the EU and its Member States.