EU expects deeper reforms from Congress

By: 9 months ago

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How EU expects deeper reforms from Congress

They say a year is a long time in politics, so the five years since the last Party Congress in 2012 can be considered a very long time indeed. Certainly the world has changed in many ways, some good, some not so good. The European Union, which back then was still in the throes of a financial crisis is now recovering well; we have witnessed major achievements such as the Paris climate agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. But there have also been more negative aspects, like the war in Syria, the rise of global terrorism, and the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.In terms of EU-China relations, it has also been a very busy period that has seen a major upgrade in our relationship. Just after the third Party Plenum in 2013, the EU and China launched the 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, a blueprint for our relations up to 2020 covering the four key pillars of Peace and Security, Prosperity, Sustainable Development and People-to-People relations. We welcome the positive progress we have made in all these areas, while acknowledging the need to address constructively areas of divergence, including on human rights. In early 2014, Xi Jinping became the first Chinese head of state to visit the EU headquarters in Brussels, signalling the importance that China also lends to this relationship. Since then, both China and the EU have been pursuing often complementary strategies and cooperating on global common goods such as climate change and peace and security. In 2013, China launched its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative and the EU was well represented at the Belt and Road Summit last May. The EU and China share the common objective of strengthening infrastructure development across Eurasia, an enabler of growth and prosperity. Through the EU - China Connectivity Platform we are exploring synergies with European programs and focussing on the regulatory framework which should ensure transparency, equal treatment and financial and ecological sustainability.On the economic front, we continue to be major trading partners, engaging in more than 1.5 billion euro worth of trade every day. However, another key engine of jobs and growth, and one with vastly more potential than trade, is that of investment.  EU investment into China is only a fraction of EU investment into the US. With this in mind, we agreed in 2013 to launch negotiations towards a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which we hope will remove market access barriers to investment and provide a high level of protection to investors and investments in both markets. Since then we have conducted 15 rounds of negotiations. Since the 3rd Plenum in 2013, China has promised much in terms of wider market access and deeper market reforms. In January, President Xi Jinping himself made a stirring speech in Davos in favour of open markets and globalisation. Promising announcements have also been made by the State Council. But delivery has been slow. So we hope that China will now speed up implementation of market-oriented non-discriminatory reforms, bringing China's policies into line with its vision of an open, rules-based and fair global economy - a vision we share. This would open the way to make progress on levelling the playing field on market access and investment protection and opportunities, thus harnessing the true potential of our economic relationship.  At the same time, our relations go beyond the political and economic, with ever-growing exchanges of students, academics and research projects. And we look forward to a big boost in people-to-people contacts from next year's EU-China Year of Tourism..