Trade liberalisation and overall relationship
1 - Formats of the EU-China dialogue
|Scorecard 2013: B- ||(11/20)
The EU and China adopted a plan for strategic co-operation, but a coherent approach was complicated by member states’ bilateral relations with China.
During the first half of 2013, which marked the tenth anniversary of the EU–China Strategic Partnership and was overshadowed by the EU–China solar panel dispute, there were no high-level meetings between the EU and the new Chinese leadership: although High Representative Catherine Ashton travelled to China in April, she did not meet President Xi Jinping or Prime Minister Li Keqiang. In May, Li visited Europe (Germany, Iceland, and Switzerland), but did not stop in Brussels. He instead sent his envoy to discuss the solar panels case.
After the provisional settlement of the solar panel dispute, the atmosphere in EU–China relations improved. In October, the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue was held for the first time since 2010. This discussion prepared the ground for the 16th EU–China Summit, which took place in November – the first opportunity for European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to meet the new Chinese leaders in person. The summit adopted the “EU–China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation”, which, if fully implemented, would expand greatly sectoral co-operation. China and the EU also agreed to open negotiations on a BIT (bilateral investment treaty) and launch a new EU–China Innovation Cooperation Dialogue, which supplements a plethora of EU–China dialogues covering almost all areas of the relationship.
The development of a coherent European approach to China continued to be complicated by member states’ bilateral relations with China. Chinese leaders met the heads of state of Finland, France, Germany, Greece, and the Netherlands. The second 16+1 meeting between China and Central and Eastern European countries was also held in Bucharest. However, the EU member states participating in the forum had consulted the European Commission in advance, and agreed that any infrastructure deal financed as a result of a broad €10 billion package advertised by China would follow EU rules on public markets and tenders. The Commission was also represented.