“It is not possible to shape the world of tomorrow without a strong EU-China partnership”, said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission following the EU-China Summit that took place via videoconference on 22 June. She stressed it was time to accelerate on the very crucial areas of this relationship, and in particular to address the concerns on reciprocity and the level playing field.
President von der Leyen together with President of the European Council Charles Michel, and accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, held the Summit meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, followed by exchanges with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
She called the EU-China relationship simultaneously ‘one of the most strategically important and one of the most challenging'. The Summit was a much-needed opportunity to discuss all aspects of this complex and vital partnership, from trade to human rights to coronavirus response. It was only a starting point, as President von der Leyen said and we must make further progress. “Progress implies cooperation by both sides, implies reciprocity, and implies trust.”
Von der Leyen reiterated that human rights and fundamental freedoms were non-negotiable for the EU and that this issue was again raised in today's exchange. She also reflected on the EU-China trade relations saying we urgently needed to follow up on the commitments of the last year's Summit in addressing market barriers. “And we also need to have more ambition on the Chinese side in order to conclude negotiations on an investment agreement. These two actions would address the asymmetry in our respective market access and would improve the level playing field between us”, she explained.
Von der Leyen pointed out to the importance of digital transformation and climate action, two key considerations that will underpin Europe's post-coronavirus recovery, urging China to commit to climate neutrality as soon as possible after 2050.
The Summit also discussed the response to the coronavirus crisis. The leaders agreed on the need to continue the mutual solidarity that was expressed by both sides at the outbreak of the pandemic, and to support more vulnerable countries as part of the Coronavirus Global Response.