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MNI INTERVIEW:EU States To Try To Revive China Investment Deal
European Union states are likely to make big efforts to revive the currently stalled EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment in coming months, the vice chair of the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee told MNI.
“What I hear behind the curtains is a lot of noise in the last month about CAI and I hear that member states when they assemble in the Council will ask for the CAI to be reconsidered,” Iuliu Winkler said.
Another EU source suggested that the CAI may appear on the agenda of an informal EU foreign ministers’ meeting scheduled for mid-May. France and Germany are said to be keen on pushing ahead with the CAI, although there has also been talk that it could be implemented in a series of smaller deals, which might not require a full ratification procedure by the Parliament.
The comments follow a recent series of high-level visits to Beijing by the leaders of France, Germany, Spain and the European Commission aimed at stabilising EU-China economic relations despite increasingly hawkish noises and trade measures from Brussels and Washington.
The CAI was agreed in December 2020 but progress on the deal stopped following a round of tit-for-tat sanctions between the two sides. After the EU imposed sanctions on China over its treatment of its Uyghur population, China responded by sanctioning MEPs, after which the assembly refused to take any further steps towards ratification.
VON DER LEYEN
Referring to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s recent keynote speech on EU-China relations, Winkler says it is interesting that key elements reiterated the aims of CAI.
“It is clear that the CAI has not lost its economic and trade sense,” Winkler said, noting the Commission chief’s stress on the need for a level playing field for EU exporters and investors in China, reciprocity, intellectual property rights and rebalancing the trade relationship between the two sides.
“Yes, I hear a lot of noises [on reviving the CAI] and it’s not just because I am the rapporteur for it when it eventually comes [to the European Parliament],” he said.
Further progress on the agreement will still require China to lift the sanctions it has imposed on EU parliamentarians before MEPs would even take even the first procedural steps towards ratifying CAI.
“The next step will be the European Parliament and until we have a lifting of sanctions nothing will move. This is the consensus between left and right,” Winkler said.
But the MEP said he expects “more coordinated action” between EU institutions to allow the sanctions on the Parliament to be lifted.
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