European Interest

Growing relations from Brussels to Beijing

Flickr/EU2017EE Estonian Presidency/CC BY 2.0
“I have always been a strong believer in the potential of the EU-China partnership,” said EC President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Leaders of the European Union and China gathered in Beijing on July 16 for their 20th annual Summit. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, met with China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc also attended the Summit. President Tusk and President Juncker also met with the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

“I have always been a strong believer in the potential of the EU-China partnership,” said Juncker. “In today’s world that partnership is more important than ever before. Our cooperation simply makes sense.”

According to Juncker, Europe is China’s largest trading partner and China is our second largest. He said the trade in goods is worth over €1.5bn every single day.

“But we also know that we can do so much more,” said Juncker. “This is why it is so important that today we have made progress on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment through a first exchange of offers on market access, and towards an agreement on Geographical Indications. That shows that we want to create more opportunities for people in China and in Europe.”

As outlined in a Commission press release, the Summit concluded with agreement on a number of deliverables, including a Leaders’ Statement on climate change and clean energy. There was also an exchange of offers on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and a Partnership Agreement on oceans, as well as a Memorandum of Understanding on Circular Economy Cooperation and another to Enhance Cooperation on Emissions Trading.

Welcoming the Leaders’ statement on climate change and clean energy, Juncker said: “We have underlined our joint, strong determination to fight climate change and demonstrate global leadership. It shows our commitment to multilateralism and recognises that climate change is a global challenge affecting all countries on earth. There is no time for us to sit back and watch passively. Now is the time for decisive action.”

In his keynote speech, Juncker stressed the importance of multilateralism. “We expect all our partners to respect international rules and commitments that they have taken, notably within the framework of the World Trade Organisation,” he said. “At the same time, it is true that the existing WTO rules do not allow unfair practices to be dealt with in the most effective way, but instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, we must all preserve the multilateral system and improve it from within.”

Other topics discussed at the Summit included ways to support a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula; their commitment to the continued, full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the Iran nuclear deal; joint, coordinated work on the peace process in Afghanistan; and the situation in eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. They also discussed other foreign and security challenges, such as in the Middle East, Libya, and Africa, as well as their joint commitment to multilateralism and the rules-based international order with the United Nations at its core.

What is more, both sides confirmed they will press ahead with the parallel negotiations on the second phase of the EU-China Mobility and Migration Dialogue roadmap, namely on an agreement on visa facilitation and an agreement on cooperation in addressing irregular migration.

According to the Commission, Brussels and Beijing also agreed to launch new dialogues covering drug-related issues and humanitarian assistance.

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