Interview: Intention to reach China-EU investment agreement in 2020 sends good signal, says MEP

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-25 14:43:02|Editor: huaxia

BRUSSELS, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The intention to conclude the China-EU Comprehensive Investment Agreement as planned sends a very good signal to the world that real results can be achieved between the two powerhouses despite the COVID-19 pandemic, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) said Wednesday.

Jan Zahradil, a Czech MEP and Chairman of the EU-China Friendship Group in the European Parliament, told Xinhua in an interview that he was glad that President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed the wish and intention of the commission to conclude the negotiations in 2020.

It's important to step up the level of attention paid to the negotiations in summer so there is "a real chance to have an investment agreement till the end of the year," von der Leyen said at a joint press conference together with President of the European Council Charles Michel following the 22nd China-EU leaders' meeting via video link on Monday.

The meeting between leaders of the European Union (EU) and China shows that "after those difficult and tough times we've gone through, we just now are once again at a starting point where we can renew very intensively our communication, and prepare ourselves for tackling the difficulties that were brought upon us by the coronavirus epidemic," said Zahradil, who is also vice chairperson of the Committee on International Trade of the European Parliament.

Both sides agree that China-EU economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial and look forward to concluding a comprehensive, balanced and high-level agreement on investment, said Wang Lutong, director-general of the European Affairs Department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, at a press briefing in Beijing Tuesday.

The EU and China launched the negotiations in 2014, and have expressed the intention to conclude the process in 2020. The EU has counted on China, with such an agreement reached and enforced, to provide European companies wider access to its huge market and put them on equal footing with Chinese competitors.

Zahradil said the agreement, if finalized as expected, is not just about one treaty, but also about "the positive atmosphere it could help to create."

He believed that stronger economic ties between the two engines would benefit the whole world, which is struggling to recover from the health and economic crises.

The pandemic has forced most countries to suspend economic activities, causing serious economic losses in major markets including the United States, China and the EU.

The EU has also found itself stuck in a situation where the relations between the United States and China hit a low in recent years.

"If the United States has a different view before the presidential elections this autumn, we can only respect that, but it doesn't mean that European Union should not develop its own autonomous, independent position," said Zahradil.

Noting that the EU needs to reflect its own interest and pursue its own values, he said "we have to clearly demonstrate that we do not wish to go by the pathway of some trade war or confrontation, because that would not bring benefit to any side."

This year marks the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the EU.

A lesson could be learned from the past 45 years that "partnership with mutual understanding and cooperation, wherever possible, is much better than isolation or confrontation or closing doors to each other," said Zahradil. Enditem