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EU-China investment deal unveiled

Now we have to convince. The Commission, which reached a political agreement with China on the issue of investments on December 30, 2020, must now pedagogy the text, if it wants it to have a chance of being ratified. Because the European Parliament, more than reserved at this stage, will be called upon to give its approval. As for the Twenty-Seven, if they have been consulted throughout the process, they will also have to speak out and be able to take responsibility for the outcome in the face of sometimes reluctant public opinions.

On Friday January 22, the community executive finally published the content of the agreement (69 pages) between the European Union (EU) and China, which will soon be completed by annexes and which, after a phase of legal grooming and translations, will be submitted, probably in early 2022, to Member States and MEPs.

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However, this draft treaty suffers from a design flaw. Hastily concluded, after seven years of laborious negotiations, it is suspected of serving above all the interests of German industry, which, in these times of crisis and Brexit, is looking more than ever for outlets. In this context, judge his detractors, he sacrifices the fate of the Uyghurs and human rights. And sends an ominous signal to the Biden administration, which had not yet taken office when the agreement was reached, and with which Brussels hopes to revive the transatlantic relationship.

Removal of constraints

“It is an unworthy treaty”, believes Philippe Lamberts, co-chair of the Les Verts group in the European Parliament, “Proof of Merkel’s mercantilism”. Apart from German MEPs and EPP conservatives, the EU-China deal arouses mixed feelings in the legislative assembly, which range from frank hostility, among environmentalists or representatives of the radical left, to assumed skepticism. . Including among the Renew liberals, traditionally in favor of this type of agreement.

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“Today there are strong imbalances between the EU, which is very open to Chinese investors, and China, which is increasing entry barriers and discriminatory practices for foreign companies that have set up there. This agreement rebalances things and establishes rules ”, hammers the Commission. The text covers various manufacturing sectors – the automobile, transport and health equipment, the chemical sector – and services – in finance, digital, or maritime or air transport. It provides for China to lift, more or less depending on the case, the constraints it imposes on foreign investors, such as the obligation to create a joint venture or to transfer technologies. It also stipulates that Chinese public groups treat European companies – to which they sell their services – in a non-discriminatory manner.

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