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EU-China leaders meeting ends on a note of cautious optimism

EU-China Leaders’ Meeting Ends on Cautious Optimism

BRUSSELS – The EU-China leaders’ meeting via videoconference on Monday ended without a joint statement. A joint press release from EU leaders has been issued.
The meeting was preceded by the signing of a bilateral agreement to protect 100 European geographical indications (GIs) in China and 100 Chinese geographical indications in the EU against usurpation and imitation. The deal is expected to bring mutual business benefits and present consumers with guaranteed quality products from both sides.
“We aspire to a relationship that respects our mutual commitments. This generates concrete results for both parties,” declared European Council President Charles Michel after the meeting.
“Results that are also good for the world. In some areas, we are on the right track. In others, there is still work to be done. ”
The meeting covered a range of issues relating to trade and investment, climate change and biodiversity, the response to COVID-19, international affairs and human rights issues, for both parties, the meeting was more an opportunity to express their positions and expectations.
According to Michel, the EU has also raised the possibility of access by independent observers to Chinese regions where the EU has criticized the human rights situation of minorities.
China sees criticism as interference in its internal affairs. The two sides agreed that a human rights dialogue would take place as a physical meeting in China later this year.
In the joint press release from EU leaders, Council President Michel, Commission President von der Leyen and German Chancellor Merkel said the meeting was essential to maintain the momentum of high-level EU exchanges-China to achieve concrete results in line with the interests and values of the EU.
At the following press conference with the three EU leaders, the Commission President described the talks as “frank, open, constructive and intense”, with an emphasis on trade pieces.
“We hope that trade barriers will be lifted,” she said.
Chancellor Merkel added that trade relations have improved in recent years and the time has come for China to respond to the EU’s calls for a level playing field.
On negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI), both sides have made progress on rules governing the behaviour of state-owned enterprises, forced technology transfer and transparency of subsidies.
All are part of the investment agreement to be finalized.
The EU stressed that further work was urgently needed on issues of rebalancing market access and sustainable development and called on China to strengthen its ambition on these issues. According to the press release, both sides reaffirmed their goal of closing the remaining gaps before the end of the year, but that remains to be seen.
Regarding climate change, Michel said that “China is a key global partner in reducing greenhouse gases and fighting climate change. And we encourage China to be even more ambitious. The EU is setting the bar high – carbon neutrality by 2050.”
The EU also expects China to set a date for climate neutrality.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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