October 24, 2008
Next Thursday, 30 October, there will be an EU-China meeting to continue the negotiation of the Partnership & Cooperation Agreement (PCA). The aim is to agree an ‘early harvest’ of clauses ahead of the 1 December bilateral summit in Lyons. I have detected a worrying development in EU-China relations. More and more Chinese officials and scholars express an ongoing disappointment with the EU, following a tough but successful year (storms, Tibet, torch parades, earthquake, Olympic games, financial crisis, economic crisis…), and are showing greater confidence, which has translated into increased assertiveness.
The criticism of Europe’s behaviour grows louder, as do demands for restraint over human rights, the lifting of the arms embargo and the granting of market economy status. Conversely, there is little acceptance of the validity of our concerns about fairer market access, particularly for services.
A “strategic partnership” must be based on the acceptance of the principle that we have common problems which require common solutions.
A standard PCA is not the appropriate vehicle for a “strategic partnership” but we are stuck with it. Ultimate agreement is not likely to herald a major change in the relationship but failure to agree would have serious adverse consequences.Author : Stanley Crossick