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EU leaders endorse China strategy

2 October 2020

At the European Council on 1-2 October, EU leaders confirmed the multi-faceted approach towards China – and agreed to hold a special meeting on China in Berlin on 16 November. It also looked forward to a meeting of all 27 with President Xi next year.

The conclusions on China welcomed the signature of the agreement on Geographical Indications but stressed the need to rebalance the economic relationship and achieve reciprocity. It recalled the goal of finalising, by the end of this year, negotiations for ‘an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI) that addresses the current asymmetries in market access, contributes to a level playing field, and establishes meaningful commitments on sustainable development. It also calls on China to deliver on previous commitments to address market access barriers, to make progress on overcapacity and engage in negotiations on industrial subsidies at the World Trade Organization.’

On global issues, the EU called on China to take ‘more ambitious action on climate in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and on biodiversity.’ It said China should support multilateral responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, notably as regards treatments and vaccines, the independent review of the international health response, and debt relief as a necessary condition for recovery from the pandemic, particularly in Africa.

There was also a passage critical of China’s human rights record as well as developments in Hong Kong.

Finally, the European Council reaffirmed the EU’s March 2019 strategic outlook paper on China and called for further ‘coherent efforts’ to implement it.