The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has maintained relations with the Chinese Economic and Social Council (CESC) since the inception of that body in 2001. The EESC has made several visits to China in recent years. In the Joint Declaration by the Presidents of the two Committees, which was approved in July 2002 in Beijing, it was agreed that building on the existing friendly relations between China and the European Union was in their common interest, and that both sides would engage in consultation, dialogue and research on economic and social issues of common interest as well as issues related to human rights and the rule of law, so as to promote economic development and social progress in China and the European Union.
Beginnings of the Round Table
The Ninth EU-China Summit, held in Helsinki on 9 September 2006, acknowledged that the exchanges and cooperation between the EESC and the CESC formed an integral part of the EU-China relationship and encouraged the establishment of a regular Round Table to help enrich and develop the EU-China strategic partnership and entrusted the two bodies with the task of setting it up. In March 2007, a Round Table was set up as a new platform for dialogue between the EU and China.
The Round Table comprises 15 members from each side and is co-chaired by the President of the EESC and the President of the Chinese ESC. It meets twice a year, with the venue alternating between China and the EU. The Round Table works on the basis of written contributions on jointly selected topics of relevance linked to EU-China relations, presented by both rapporteurs for discussion at the two-yearly meetings.
The joint declaration
A joint declaration is adopted at the close of each Round Table. This enables members to summarise the issues on which they have reached consensus in discussions and to continue talks at the following Round Table on those issues on which points of view differ. This joint declaration is forwarded to the political authorities in the European Union and to the Chinese government.
Work carried out
Since 2007, the Round Table has met twice a year. Two main types of topic have figured on the agenda:
- topics concerning the environment and sustainable development (recycling industries (2008/9), water and sustainable development (2009/10)); these topics are preferred by the Chinese side;
- topics concerning economic and social questions and rights (CSR (2008), trade and investment (2008/9), economic and social rights (2009), the rights of the child (2009/10)).