Political Dialogue

EU-China Political Dialogue

The EU and China first established in 1994 the framework of a structured political dialogue on issues of common concern. This political dialogue was upgraded in 1998 with the agreement to hold regular EU-China Summits. In 2002, China and the EU decided to formally update the framework of their political dialogue through an exchange of letters, which constitutes the legal basis for the current dialogue. The scope of the EU-China political dialogue has gradually broadened to cover issues ranging from non-proliferation to the security situation in Asia, from global warming to the fight against illegal migration and trafficking in human beings. Chinese and European leaders have agreed that there is great potential to expand further this dialogue, and in 2010 a new high level dialogue on strategic and foreign policy issues was established between the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and her counterpart in the Chinese State Council.

The commitment of the EU to the strengthening of its political dialogue with China is reflects Europe's recognition that China, as a UN Security Council member, a growing economic and political power, and an increasingly active member of the international community, can exert a significant influence on a wide series of issues of global concern. In a world increasingly bound together by the forces of globalisation, co-operation with China, bilaterally or within multilateral structures, is crucial to achieve progress in many important areas.

The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2010 created important new mechanisms for conducting EU foreign policy:

- a permanent President of the European Council, who represents the EU in important international meetings held at Head of State or government level;

- a High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (EU HR/VP). She is appointed by EU heads of state and government, and chairs the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers. At the same time, she is vice President of the European Commission.

As a result, political dialogue with China is now conducted by representatives of the European institutions (in the past the country holding the rotating EU Presidency chaired meetings, together with the European Commission and the future Presidency). In Beijing, the EU is represented by the Delegation of the European Union, which conducts all local demarches towards the Chinese authorities (except on consular issues).

Framework of the EU-China Political Dialogue:

  • Annual Summits, at the level of the Heads of State or Government. These take place alternately in China and Brussels. The EU is representated by the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, assisted by the European High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission.
  • Annual meetings between the President Barroso, accompanied by members of the European Commission and Premier Wen, accompanied by members of the State Council (so-called "executive-to-executive" meetings);
  • Regular political dialogue on strategic and foreign policy issues between the EU High Representative for foreign and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and the Chinese State Councillor responsible for foreign affairs.
  • Meetings when needed between the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and the Foreign Minister of China, in addition to annual meetings in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • Annual meetings of EU and Chinese Political Directors. These alternate between Beijing and the Brussels.
  • Annual meetings between the EU Director for Asia Pacific affairs and his or her Chinese counterpart on Asian and Pacific issues. These alternate between Beijing and Brussels.
  • Meetings at least once a year between EU and Chinese experts on international security, arms control, non-proliferation and export controls issues.
  • Meetings at least once a year between EU and Chinese experts on the control of Small Arms and Light Weapons
  • A meeting every six months between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China and the Ambassadors from the European Union posted in Beijing.
  • A meeting every six months between the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy/ Vice President of the Commission and the Ambassador of China to the European Union
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