EUROPEAN FOREIGN POLICY SCORECARD 2015

Overall partnership

44 - Formats of the Europe-China dialogue

Grade: B-
Unity 2/5
Resources 3/5
Outcome 6/10
Total 11/20
Scorecard 2012: C+ (9/20)
Scorecard 2013: B- (11/20)
Scorecard 2014: B (13/20)

European Parliament elections this year created space for member states to develop bilateral relations with China.

Although no EU-China summit was held in 2014, more high-level EU-China meetings took place in 2014 than in the previous year. In particular, Xi Jinping visited Brussels for the first time in March and, at the tenth ASEM meeting in Milan in October, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with outgoing European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. These two visits were also an opportunity for China to visit a number of EU member states. In addition, the fourth EU-China High-Level Strategic Dialogue took place in Brussels in January, the second EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue was held in September in Beijing, the first EU-China Dialogue on Defence and Security took place in Beijing in October, and the 33rd EU-China Human Rights Dialogue was held in December.

However, despite these highly publicised meetings, there were fewer initiatives between the two partners and fewer outcomes: in 2013 the EU and China adopted the ambitious EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation; this year’s main announcement was a mutual recognition agreement between China and the EU in May that aimed to support intensified customs cooperation and fight against illegal trade. This slowdown in activity was in part because it was a transition year for the EU following the European elections in May and the leadership change in Brussels.

This transition created space for member states to develop their bilateral relations with China, although Finland, Germany, and Poland still made efforts to coordinate within the EU.There was a flurry of bilateral visits, meetings, and talks: Xi visited Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands; Li visited the Germany, Greece, Italy, and the UK; and a number of member state leaders and officials went on official visits to China. Above all, central and eastern European member states pursued stronger political and economic links with China, within and outside of the 16+1 forum. A summit held in December focused on investment and Ukraine. Meanwhile, Cyprus followed a similar approach.