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EU-China leaders' meeting set the tone, now we need to move to action

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The European Economic and Social Committee welcomes the signature of the bilateral agreement between the EU and China to protect 100 European Geographical Indications (GIs) in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU. This is a first step towards a more fair and balanced relationship between the two global partners.

In the last months, we have dealt with a number of tensions and crisis between the EU and China, but we both know that global challenges call for responsible behaviour and trustworthy partners. Without a level playing field we risk having more losers than winners.

I am pleased that at yesterday's EU-China leaders' meeting the urgent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic has been addressed and leaders on both sides have stressed the need for collective and transparent actions. There is no sustainable recovery and reconstruction without a multilateral and collective response, also when it comes to the health emergency, which is far from over.

On the other topics that were on the agenda of the EU-China leaders' meeting, the EESC is reassured that the EU has stood by its principles and stressed issues that European civil society finds paramount for the months ahead:

  • the importance of global leadership that the EU and China together must assume to ensure that both climate change and biodiversity remain top priorities on the global agenda, building on the strong interest in these policy areas by many growing and fast-emerging economies. For the success of global climate action and clean energy transition, China's efforts can and must be a game-changer.
  • the acceleration of negotiations for a Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI). The CAI must be completed as soon as possible in order to further consolidate the EU-China Strategic Partnership, of which the trade and investment relations are at the core, and establish a level playing field for European companies operating in China. Moreover, the EU and China should boost their cooperation to jointly safeguard the authority of the WTO and contribute to an open and rules-based multilateral trading system.  
  • learn jointly the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic and how to modernize the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks around the world in the future. Cooperation between the EU and China at international level will be vital in many ways, not least in supporting the global community in socio-economic recovery from the pandemic.
  • the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong is unacceptable. The EESC is deeply concerned about the shrinking space for civil society as a consequence of the imposing of the national security law in Hong Kong and the worrying news about the human rights situation in China, in particular as regards the Uighurs. China must keep their promises to the people of Hong Kong and the international community.