The upcoming summit between China and the European Union is worthy of attention. The meeting comes amid increasing misgivings about China after the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini set out 10 concrete actions in the document “EU-China – A Strategic Outlook” on March 12. In the wake of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to three European countries – Italy, Monaco and France, China and EU leaders will not only talk about specific topics but also plan the direction and focus of the next stage of China-EU cooperation.
The summit will take pragmatic steps such as planning for the future and deepening cooperation. The other important aim of the meeting is to positively respond to EU concerns.
French and German heads of state expressed their enthusiasm and interest in the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI has long been an important part of China-EU cooperation. Italy became the first G7 country to sign up to the initiative. China has launched pragmatic cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries and Greece within the framework of the BRI. Additionally, Northern European countries have also shown interest in the initiative and have come up with potential and visionary cooperation plans like the “Ice Silk Road”.
Along with China’s more open and quality development during the implementation of the BRI, there is a promising future for cooperation between Chinese and European enterprises in third party markets.
There are now worrying signals in Europe and an inconsistency of attitude toward China among EU leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron hopes a split EU will deepen relations with China, but he is also concerned about Beijing’s increasing global influence. Meanwhile, some Western media outlets have called Italy’s choice to sign up for the BRI “unwise”.
However, they just don’t understand the BRI’s principles of openness and cooperation – joint consultation, co-construction and sharing. In addition, they don’t want to admit that Italy joined the BRI because it will be mutually beneficial. Contrary to what is widely believed, European countries’ joining the BRI will not hurt the continent’s integration or unity.
European integration is flailing as the foundation of this regional bloc has weakened. The phenomenon is obvious in countries like France, Germany, Italy and the UK. As a result, policies to promote integration lacked impetus. EU leaders have emphasized the unity of the bloc.
In this context, the “EU-China – A Strategic Outlook” aims to unite the EU and make member states talk in one and the same voice when it comes to relations with China.