Closer EU-China cooperation

By Herman Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, February 15, 2012
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C) meets with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the 14th China-EU leaders' meeting in Beijing on February 14, 2012. [Xinhua photo]

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C) meets with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the 14th China-EU leaders' meeting in Beijing on February 14, 2012. [Xinhua photo]

The world is going through rapid changes and global readjustments caused by globalization and increased inter-connectedness between countries and peoples. This trend has brought us closer together, has helped us know each other better and understand the other's needs in a clearer manner. The shortening of the distances has cut across many areas. In the emerging new global order every country is shaped by what is happening around it.

All actors, big and small, should play their part in fostering even closer global cooperation. To this effect, a stronger EU-China cooperation is not only desirable but a true necessity. This has been made once again strikingly evident with the current world economic uncertainties. The crisis which started across the Atlantic, has hit Europe and is having repercussions throughout the world. Reinvigorating economic growth, creating jobs, ensuring financial stability, promoting social inclusion and making globalization serve the needs of the people are today's most important priorities.

China and the EU, as two pillars of world's economy, need to do their part to contribute to a strong and a balanced global growth. The European Union is doing whatever it takes to overcome the current situation in the eurozone by correcting budgetary imbalances, and taking active measures to enhance growth and competitiveness and create jobs. At the same time, China's plan to rebalance its growth model is not only key to securing more resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth in China, it is also a crucial contribution to the rebalancing of demand needed at the global level. Implementing the Action Plan for Growth and delivering on the G20 Cannes Summit conclusions should therefore be part of our common response and bilateral agenda.

There are further challenges we need to tackle together: the progress to be made toward 2015 to achieve a comprehensive and legally binding outcome on climate change, the actions to be taken to ensure regional peace and stability, the preservation of the non-proliferation system, the strategy to ensure food security and sustainable development, the measures to prevent cyber crime, to name but a few.

It is with this ambitious agenda and shared determination that we came to China to attend the 14th EU-China Summit in Beijing on Feb 14. Our discussions focus on a forward looking agenda touching all areas of cooperation. It shows that we are moving forward and the EU-China relationship is strong, balanced, creative in overcoming its differences, and built on mutual respect.

The prosperity of our peoples and the sustainable and inclusive development of our economies is at the center of our relations. Europe is China's biggest trading partner, and China is now close to becoming the EU's largest trading partner as well. Europe also offers to Chinese business a single market of 500 million consumers and safe and predictable investment opportunities. The EU has been supporting China's stable development with investment and technology. However, the scope for improvement of the economic relation is still enormous, particularly on mutual investment flows. We need to work together to promote and facilitate more investment and market access in both directions, to remove trade barriers and to uphold intellectual property rights.

Mutual prosperity is a key component of our relations, and so is the Strategic Dialogue on foreign and security issues in our regions and around the globe, so far the two pillars of our cooperation.

In addition to government-to-government relations we need to go deeper and wider and reach out to our peoples. This is the reason we will launch the new "People-to-People Dialogue". Its main goal is to promote friendship and better knowledge between our 1.8 billion citizens through educational, cultural and humanitarian activities involving the exchange of ideas and experiences. This will be henceforth the third pillar of our cooperation.

The way our societies and economies interact has the potential to transform our partnership and relations between our peoples. That is a reason to engage in discussions on today's and tomorrow's challenges, such as energy security, cyber security, innovation and urbanization. On the latter, a new partnership will prolong the spirit of Shanghai Expo Better City, Better Life and put China and Europe on a joint learning curve towards the emergence of sustainable and liveable cities.

The remarkable scale and speed of China's development has had an enormous impact on the world and Europe, and the image of China has become an everyday feature for our societies and public opinions. China's public image will be shaped by factors going beyond its economic performance, which has been crucial in lifting many millions out of poverty: benefiting from an open and interdependent world implies a greater responsibility in contributing to its stability as well. Safeguarding Human Rights and the Rule of Law is part of this. China and the EU have both signed up to the international instruments that enshrine the universal values of human rights, and we have a shared responsibility to uphold them. This work is among the core values the European Union is built on. China's contribution to implementing the universal principles of Human Rights and Rule of Law will be an important element shaping its global public reputation.

As to the 14th EU-China Summit, we are confident that the summit will be a successful one, bringing a positive message to our peoples and to the world that the EU and China stand ready to bring our strategic partnership to new heights for the benefit not only of us, but of the wider world.

Herman Van Rompuy is president of the European Council and Jos Manuel Barroso is president of the European Commission.

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