EU-China Summit: Rebalancing the strategic partnership
The 21st EU-China Summit took place today in Brussels, providing a forum for engagement at the highest level and for advancing the relationship as regards the bilateral and multilateral agendas.
The People's Republic of China was represented by Premier Li Keqiang. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission,Federica Mogherini, and European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, also attended the Summit.
The European Union and China agreed and issued a Joint Declaration.
"In today's world, our partnership is more important than ever before. We share the same belief that working together makes the world a stronger, safer and more prosperous place", said President Jean-Claude Juncker. "As good friends, we can also be honest with each other when we need to be or when progress is slower than we would like. This honesty and a strong determination to face our challenges together have allowed us to make real progress, reflected in today's Joint Statement. But we can do a lot better. We need to find a better balance and level of reciprocity. Europe wants to trade more and invest more in China but we need rules that allow us to do so. We want to work with China, because we believe in the potential of our partnership.[…] Similarly, we finished negotiations on two aviation agreements back in December 2017 and it is now high time to sign them. ”
A realistic, assertive and multi-faceted EU approach
While China's economic and political influence makes it a vital partner for the European Union, as well as vice-versa, there is a growing appreciation in Europe that the balance of challenges and opportunities presented by China has shifted. In line with last month's Joint Communication on China and the discussion among EU leaders at the March European Council discussion, the EU pursues a realistic and multi-faceted approach with a view to ensuring fair, balanced and mutually-beneficial relations. The EU will work for a more balanced economic relationship with China while at the same time pursue deeper engagement on global and multilateral issues, including reform of the World Trade Organisation.
In addition to the Joint Summit Statement, which demonstrates the breadth and depth of EU-China cooperation, a number of other concrete deliverables were agreed at the Summit, including:
a Memorandum of Understanding on a dialogue in the area of the state aid control regime and the Fair Competition Review System; an Agreement on the Terms of Reference of the EU-China Competition Policy Dialogue; a Joint Statement on the Implementation of the EU-China Cooperation on Energy; Terms of Reference for a Joint Study to identify the most sustainable railways-based transport corridors between Europe and China.
Preserving the international rules-based trade system and enhancing bilateral trade and investment
At the Summit, the EU and China confirmed their firm support to the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core.
The shared objective of equitable and mutually beneficial cooperation in bilateral trade and investment was one of the key topics discussed. The EU and China reiterated their willingness to provide each other with broader, non-discriminatory market access. With this in mind, the parties will work expeditiously on a number of key market access barriers ahead of the next EU-China Summit.
Progress was also made on the ongoing Investment Agreement negotiations, a top priority for maintaining an open, predictable, fair and transparent business environment for European and Chinese investors. The Leaders committed to achieving decisive progress to conclude the negotiations in 2020. In this regard, they also established a political mechanism to continuously monitor the progress in the negotiations.
With a provisional agreement reached on the text of the agreement on Geographical Indications (GIs) and on the protection for the majority of GI names, Leaders committed to work together to resolve the remaining issues to conclude the negotiations in 2019.
The EU and China have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a dialogue in the area of the State Aid Control and the Fair Competition Review, reconfirming a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2017.
The Agreement on the Terms of Reference of the EU-China Competition Policy Dialogue, also agreed today, will replace two earlier documents signed by the EU and China in order to facilitate requests to investigate alleged anti-competitive behaviour. The Agreement acknowledges that the EU and China share a common interest to minimise any potentially adverse effects of enforcement activities on each other's interests.
Tackling global and regional challenges together
Following the High-Level Strategic Dialogue, co-chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini and Chinese State Counsellor, Wang Yi, as well as the discussion between EU Foreign Ministers and State Counsellor Wang on EU-China relations on 18 March, leaders held fruitful discussions on foreign and security cooperation and the situation in their respective neighbourhoods.
The EU recalled the importance of the application of international law and cooperation against malicious cyber activities, including on ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, for an open, stable and secure cyberspace.
With the protection and improvement of human rights at the very core of the European Union and its global partnerships, Leaders also addressed such issues, one week after the EU and China held their latest Human Rights Dialogue.
Leaders discussed the huge potential to further connect Europe and Asia in a sustainable manner and based on market principles. Building on the fourth meeting of the EU-China Connectivity Platform, held in the margins of the Summit, the EU and China looked at ways to create synergies between the EU's approach to connectivity, including the Trans-European Transport Network, and China's Belt and Road Initiative.
The EU and China lead the clean energy transition towards meeting the objectives under the Paris Agreement. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, and his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Jianhua, the Administrator of the Chinese National Energy Agency, signed in the margins of the Summit a Joint Statement on the Implementation of the EU-China Cooperation on Energythat will provide a framework for deepening and intensifying EU-China energy cooperation.
A number of other high-level meetings took place in the margins of the summit, including the 4th Innovation Cooperation Dialogue, co-chaired by Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, and Wang Zhigang, Chinese Minister of Science and Technology. The EU and China will develop a joint roadmap to enrich and balance cooperation in research and innovation, while the Dialogue also focussed on framework conditions for cooperation, including mutual openness of the respective research and innovation programmes.