EU Sets High Ambitions With China
The European Commission has adopted a new EU strategy on China which maps out the European Union’s relationship with China for the next five years.
The document, entitled “Elements for a new EU strategy on China,” identifies major opportunities for the EU’s relationship with China, in particular with the aim of creating jobs and growth in Europe as well as vigorously promoting a greater opening up of the Chinese market to European business.
The European Commission’s last Communication on China in 2006 was adopted a decade ago.
“We can and must do more to connect the European Union and China,” said Federica Mogherini, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “Our citizens, industries, and organizations can all benefit from a closer, improved, and better-defined EU-China relationship based on shared responsibility.”
Opportunities identified in the strategy include concluding an ambitious and Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, a Chinese contribution to the Investment Plan for Europe, joint research and innovation activities, and connecting the Eurasian continent with physical and digital networks through which trade, investment, and people-to-people contact can flow.
The EU and China have already been negotiating a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment for more than a year. The aim is to create a more level playing field for business, open new market opportunities for both sides and, provided China advances its economic reforms and gives the market a more decisive role, pave the way for broader trade ambitions.
China has already made a commitment in principle to the Investment Plan for Europe in September 2015. The technical details of the contribution are being worked out in close cooperation with the European Commission and the European Investment Bank.
Looking further ahead, the strategy considers the possibility of a comprehensive free trade agreement once an investment agreement between the two sides has been concluded and reforms that level the playing field for domestic and foreign companies have been implemented.
“In this regard,” a commission statement said, “China must make significant, time-bound and verifiable cuts in industrial overcapacity, notably in the steel sector, to prevent negative consequences from unfair competition.”
The strategic document also highlights opportunities for closer cooperation and partnership between the EU and China in the fields of foreign and security policy.
The document will now be presented to the European Council and to the European Parliament.