EU-China: Is Brussels still the port of first call?
This post is also available in: German
As leaders of the European States meet today in Brussels to once again debate key issues related to the stability and economic well-being of the Union. Posturing by different leaders and worries about the different country positions in relation to the Single Supervisory Mechanism could overshadow a report by Herman Van Rompuy on the strengthening bilateral relationship between China and the EU which were further confirmed at the recent China-EU summit in September.
In September an EU-China summit, incidentally the last one to be attended by the current Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, ended with a sense of mixed feelings on both sides. Agreements were reached and signed on on innovation, competition, space and low carbon programmes. While discussions were held on human rights and international peace and security especially Syria and Iran Wen Jiabao promised more of China’s help with the economic crisis but complained bitterly about its unfair treatment by Europe especially with regard to the arms embargo in China since the end of the 80s and early 90s.
Looking below the surface however, trade between the EU and China is not uniform across the EU and Sino-European relations and views vary from member state to member state. There are some views that China might decide to pursue bilateral relations with individual member states with which it might have more trade and strategic relationships. This approach might be more cost effective and beneficial than one with the whole EU which might be too cumbersome to manage. However, counter opinions argue that it benefits China more in the long term to pursue a comprehensive EU-China relationship than with individual member states pitting them against each other. In truth, however, a combination of both strategies and a middle road might be the more realistic option and approach in the short and long term.
(Photo Credit - European Council)