The EU and China must not fear “difficult” discussions, says Thierry Breton

“In all my meetings […] I have been very frank and very direct, because if we want to create reciprocity, new opportunities… and an open market for business, trade and investment, we must not fear difficult discussions,” underlined Thierry Breton, visiting Beijing, during a press conference.

Sino-European relations have been strained since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 because Beijing, which calls for respect for the territorial integrity of all states, has not condemned Moscow.

Brussels is trying to reconcile its desire to be less dependent on the Asian giant, particularly economically, while maintaining solid ties with the world’s second largest economy.

The European Commissioner described his exchanges with his Chinese counterparts as “constructive” and “tense on certain issues”, but he considered that “it was very good to renew the dialogue”, after the difficult period of the Covid pandemic -19.

“It was for me an opportunity to rebalance our relations, to reduce the risks for our economies and our societies… and also to tackle global challenges together,” he said.

“The next political step will be the summit…with a very important subject that I have addressed in each of my meetings, namely the new geopolitics of supply chains,” he said. The summit is scheduled to take place on December 7 and 8 in Beijing.

The European Commissioner’s visit to China comes in addition to a series of dialogues led by senior Brussels officials with Beijing.

Last month, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell declared in Beijing that trust had been “undermined” between the EU and China and pointed out the “difficulties” for foreign companies to access the Chinese market .

In September, the European Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, visited Beijing, a few days after the European Commission’s head of digital, Vera Jourova.

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