The latest talks between the EU and China have been dismissed as “Much ado about almost nothing”.
German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, China expert of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament, was commenting on the 9th High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue between the EU and the PRC.
The Greens deputy said, “The EU-China Economic and Trade Dialogue can be summarized by adapting a famous Shakespeare quote: “Much ado about almost nothing”.
“The EU and China agreed on enhanced cooperation on animal health. They also patted themselves on the shoulder for positive outcomes of the 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation more than four weeks ago, even though they obviously could not agree on necessary further steps of reform.”!
He said, ” That both sides see a need to “prevent supply chain disruptions” is just a very abstract pledge. Fourthly, China committed to ensure that its domestic regulation would not curtail the business of European leasing companies in China. Beyond these meagre points, no agreement could be achieved.
“European concerns about a worsening business environment in China seem to have fallen on deaf ears, just as much as European arguments against economic coercion, including in the Lithuanian case. On a number of European proposals, there seems not to have been a Chinese answer. That includes the need to help address the challenges caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine; it includes work on debt relief for low-income countries; it includes transparency and adequate information on the supply of certain critical materials; it includes China’s Covid-19 pandemic management and a long host of other issues.
“To call China a key trading partner, as Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis did, is a very gracious description of an effectively more grim reality. China should rather be called a “key trading adversary”, he concluded.
Meanwhile, BusinessEurope has published its new paper on EU-China relations coinciding with the EU-China High-Level Economic Dialogue.
The paper highlights challenges and risks in contemporary EU-China relations but also emphasises the importance of EU-China cooperation in certain areas, particularly where multilateral solutions are needed.
The paper sets out policy recommendations for creating the conditions for closer cooperation with China in two specific areas: climate policy and standardisation.
BusinessEurope President Fredrik Persson said:”EU-China relations are facing considerable challenges. On trade and investment significant asymmetries remain, including a lack of reciprocity in market access and an unlevel playing field in some sectors.
“China’s increased assertiveness and the supply chain disruptions resulting from China’s zero-COVID policy are creating additional risk factors for companies. China is and will remain a major market for European companies, but overreliance and exposure risks should be carefully assessed”.
“Despite these challenges, our economies are strongly interdependent. We face many common global challenges that need collective solutions and collaboration between the EU and China. Cooperation is necessary in areas such as climate policy and standardisation but both sides need to show political willingness and commitment to achieve concrete results.”