European Council conclusions on China : EU agrees to de-risk from China
BRUSSELS (REUTERS)- On 29-30 June 2023, the European Council adopted conclusions on Ukraine, economy, security and defence, China, external relations, Eastern Mediterranean and other items.
The European Council continued its strategic discussion on the EU’s relations with China and reaffirmed the EU’s multifaceted policy approach towards China, where it is simultaneously a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival. Despite their different political and economic systems, the European Union and China have a shared interest in pursuing constructive and stable relations, anchored in respect for the rules-based international order, balanced engagement and reciprocity.
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said finding the right stance was “the million euro question”, adding the de-risking strategy followed the EU’s painful lesson from reliance on Russian gas, which Moscow cut after its invasion of Ukraine.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in March that a hardening of China’s position required Europe to “de-risk” both economically and diplomatically.
The European Union will continue to support the Republic of Moldova in addressing
the challenges it faces as a consequence of the Russian aggression against Ukraine and
in reform efforts on its European path. The European Council acknowledges the
Republic of Moldova’s commitment and substantial efforts to meet the required
conditions in its EU accession process.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte highlighted EU reliance on China during the COVID pandemic for protective equipment such as masks and now for medicines and pharmaceutical raw materials. De-risking, he said, would be a “step-by-step” process.
It welcomes the recently presented support package and launch of the civilian EU Partnership Mission. It commends the Republic of Moldova for the successful organization of the second European Political Community Summit on 1 June 2023.
The European Union will continue to engage with China to tackle global challenges and encourages China to take more ambitious action on climate change and biodiversity, health and pandemic preparedness, food security, disaster reduction, debt relief, and humanitarian assistance.
The European Union and China continue to be important trade and economic partners. The European Union will seek to ensure a level playing field, so that the trade and economic relationship is balanced, reciprocal and mutually beneficial. In line with the Versailles agenda, the European Union will continue to reduce critical dependencies and vulnerabilities, including in its supply chains, and will de-risk and diversify where necessary and appropriate. The European Union does not intend to decouple or to turn inwards.
As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, China has a special responsibility in upholding the rules-based international order, the United Nations Charter and international law. Hence, the European Council calls on China to press Russia to stop its war of aggression, and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
“We see China more and more as a systemic rival,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said.
The East and South China Seas are of strategic importance for regional and global prosperity and security. The European Union is concerned about growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
The European Council opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion. It reconfirms the EU’s consistent ‘One China policy’.
The European Union remains firmly committed to the promotion of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The European Council welcomes the resumption of the Human Rights Dialogue with China.
It reiterates its concerns regarding forced labor, the treatment of human rights defenders and persons belonging to minorities, the situation in Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as the honoring of China’s previous commitments related to Hong Kong.