EU-China Summit: From Human Rights via Climate to Trade

Written by | Monday, July 6th, 2015

The European Union and China celebrated the 40th anniversary of EU-China diplomatic relations during their 17th bilateral summit that took place in Brussels last week (29 June). The EU was represented by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and by Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, while China was represented by the country’s Prime Minister, Li Keqiang.

Both sides agreed to reinforce the EU-China 2020 strategic agenda, which was adopted at the 2013 summit in Beijing, focusing on prosperity, sustainable development, peace and security, and people-to-people exchanges. At the last Monday summit, leaders moreover discussed migration and mobility issues including the establishment of a mutual visa waiver agreement for diplomatic passport holders.

Cooperation in defence and security was also on the agenda, with both the EU and China emphasizing their commitment to the protection of human rights. Mr Tusk expressed the EU’s concern over minority rights in China, such as Tibetans or Uighurs, as well as freedom of expression and association. Climate was also discussed, as both sides are committed to embracing climate-friendly and low carbon development policies, which are designed to promote green investment both bilaterally and internationally. They both stressed the importance to increase these green ambitions over time under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and agreed to achieve an aspiring deal during the international climate conference in Paris in December this year.

The EU and China also agreed to facilitate trade between the two regions due to a new customs agreement that will come into force in November 2015. The deal should allow EU and Chinese traders enjoy lower costs, greater predictability and simplified procedures in their business activities. Companies should also benefit from faster controls and reduced administration for customs clearance. Trade between both sides is currently worth more than €1 billion every day and last year bilateral trade in goods reached € 467.2 billion. A EU-China Business Summit took place on the margins of the summit as well.

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