Eager to avoid a trade war, EU-China deepen strategic ties

© European Union, 2018/Photo: Etienne Ansotte

(L-R) EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, China’s Premier Li Keqiang and EU Council President Donald Tusk at the EU-China Summit in Beijing, July 16, 2018

Summit leaders agree on climate change and clean energy targets


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As Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald J Trump met in Helsinki with the latter noting that China would be also on the agenda, the European Union and China held their 20th Summit in Beijing on July 16, highlighting the potential for high cooperation, including in the fight against climate change.

‘I have always been a strong believer in the potential of the EU-China partnership. And in today’s world that partnership is more important than ever before. Our cooperation simply makes sense,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, eager to avoid a trade war even as pressure mounts on Beijing over its industrial policies.

“Europe is China’s largest trading partner and China is our second largest. The trade in goods between us is worth over €1.5 billion every single day. But we also know that we can do so much more. 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,” the European Commission President added.

European Council President Donald Tusk, Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc also represented the EU at the Summit.

Climate Change agreement

The EU and China have agreed a Joint Summit Statement, illustrating the breadth and depth of the relationship and the positive impact that such a partnership can have, in particular when it comes to addressing global and regional challenges such as climate change, common security threats, the promotion of multilateralism, and the promotion of open and fair trade, the Commission said.

In addition to the Joint Statement, a number of other concrete deliverables were agreed at the Summit, including a Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change and Clean Energy that reaffirms the EU and China’s unequivocal commitment to the implementation of the Paris Agreement and establish a closer partnership on climate action and the clean energy transition. They also agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding to Enhance Cooperation on Emissions Trading.

Commenting on the joint declaration, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe noted that this statement is an important milestone to ensure the urgently needed substantial increase in global climate action. “Building on the overachievement of their existing targets, and the momentum in the EU in support of going well beyond the Paris pledge, increased cooperation on climate action between the EU and China can propel the global zero carbon transition,” Trio said. “We call upon the two countries to put their statements into action and scale up their respective Paris climate pledges in order to be able to reach the long term commitment of the Paris Agreement to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C,” he added.

Economic cooperation

Other concrete deliverables agreed at the Summit included: an exchange of offers on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment; a Partnership Agreement on Oceans; a Memorandum of Understanding on Circular Economy Cooperation; agreement to conclude before the end of October, if possible, the negotiations on an Agreement on Geographical Indications; an Action Plan Concerning China-EU Customs Cooperation on Intellectual Property Rights (2018-2020); a Memorandum of Understanding between the European Investment Fund and the Silk Road Forum confirming the first co-investment carried out under the recently established China-EU Co-Investment Fund; and a Strategic Administrative Cooperation Arrangement and an Action Plan (2018-2020) between the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and the General Administration of China Customs.

In the margins of the Summit, Juncker also participated in the EU-China Business Roundtable. “The EU is promoting multilateralism, stepping up to global challenges and defending our interests in the world. We will continue to defend a rules-based, open and fair trade. L’Europe est ouverte, mais pas offerte. Let’s go forward together, promoting peace, growth and security,” the European Commission President said.

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