The European Union and China they do not finish finding the tune or clearing the way to it global investment agreement that they have been pursuing for more than five years and that they still aspire to close before the end of the year. The summit at the highest political level, held this Monday by videoconference, has not managed to unravel the pact that in the eyes of the EU will require much more reciprocity and balance which Beijing is willing to offer for the moment.
“China still has to convince us that an investment agreement is worth it,” the president of the European Commission warned. Ursula von der Leyen, after the meeting with the Chinese president, Xi Jinping. “Much remains to be done,” he added.
The summit, lasting just over two hours, was also attended by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on behalf of the rotating presidency of the EU. “Europe needs to be an actor, not a mere playing field,” recalled the Belgian politician, defending a relationship with China based on reciprocity, responsibility and justice. Words are not enough. It is time to turn them into actions and commitments into facts & rdquor ;, he has claimed.
Although the European authorities have noted some progress in the last three months – on the behavior of state-owned companies, the forced transfer of technology or transparency in subsidies – there are still important issues to be resolved, such as access to the Chinese market or the sustainable development.
The EU is also not happy with the commercial treatment that European companies receive, particularly in the field of financial services, the digital sector and agri-food trade, although they consider the signing this Monday of the agreement on geographical indications that will protect better to quality products. “It is a step in the right direction”, the EU celebrated.
Beyond economic relations, trade and the reform of the WTO, the meeting has also served to address the situation of covid-19, climate change and human rights in China. The first two issues have not generated particular discord and Brussels has limited itself to requesting cooperation and commitment to identify the origin of the pandemic or accelerate progress towards climate neutrality.
More difficult is the question of human rights. “The national security law for Hong Kong continues to cause us concern. Democratic voices in Hong Kong must be heard, rights must be protected and autonomy preserved,” Michel demanded. The EU has also expressed concern about the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, as well as humanitarian activists and journalists, and has urged Beijing to respect international law and avoid an escalation of tensions in the sea of the southern China.