China and the EU share a strong focus on green low carbon transition towards carbon neutrality. The EU is implementing the Green Deal that will transform the EU into a fair and prosperous society, with a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy where growth is decoupled from resource use and GHG emission.
Presented by the Commission on 11 December 2019, the European Green Deal sets the goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral (net zero GHG emissions) continent by 2050 to tackle climate change and environmental degradation.
The EU, as a global leader, will continue to promote and implement ambitious environment, climate and energy policies across the world. It will develop a stronger ‘green deal diplomacy’ focused on convincing and supporting others to take on their share of promoting more sustainable development.
Ongoing EU-China Dialogues on environmental matters:
Executive Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans and Vice Premier Han Zheng of China’s State Council met during the first EU-China High-level Environment and Climate Dialogue, on 1st February 2021. This new dialogue is to date the highest level of cooperation between EU and China on climate and environment matters, undoubtedly a priority area for both sides.
Prior to this new dialogue, the EU has regularly engaged with China through other thematic channels on environment matters.
The Environment Policy Dialogue (EPD) has been held at ministerial level since 2003. In 2017 meetings, the EU and China agreed on principles of technical cooperation. In the latest EPD meetings, in April 2021, both parties agreed to promote further policy exchanges on biodiversity conservation on land, forests and seas, air quality, harmful chemicals, the Minamata Convention, marine litter and micro-plastics.
Mr. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Mr. He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, on 16 July 2018, during the EU-China Summit, signed the MoU on Circular Economy Cooperation. Following this MoU, the EU and China established a ministerial dialogue to accelerate bilateral collaboration on responding to common challenges and supporting a global transition to a resource-efficient and circular economic model in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
In April 2019, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Mr Karmenu VELLA had a constructive meeting with Mr. Zhang Yong, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China, where both reaffirmed that cooperation on circular economy will be of the benefit of the people and therefore contribute to the mitigation of climate change of the planet. Given the increasing challenges from plastics waste and pollution to the environment, both leaders decided to take plastics as the priority area for both sides to work on together at the first stage. Scope for future cooperation includes dialogue on the design, planning, and implementation of policies in areas of mutual interest, such as design for circularity, extended producer responsibility, waste sorting, collection and recycling as well as further development of circular economy in key sectors such as plastics, textile, electronics, housing, packaging, etc.
Circular Economy remains an important political priority both in the EU and in China. The New Circular Economy Action Plan issued by the Commission in March 2020 and the 14th Five Year Plan for the Development of Circular Economy issued by NDRC in July 2021 provided new guidance on concrete cooperation between EU and China on Circular Economy.
As a reinforcement of Cooperation between the EU and China on water resources, both sides agreed to upgrade the level of cooperation to a ministerial level dialogue in 2017. On 2 April 2019, EU Commissioner Mr. Karmenu Vella and Mr. E Jingping, Minister of Ministry of Water Resources of China co-hosted the first Meeting of the EU-China Water Policy Dialogue .
Besides this high-level dialogue, the EU plays a crucial role in supporting the China-Europe Water Platform (CEWP) established in 2012 to encourage an integrated approach to water management in China. The CEWP is a partnership between the EU, EU Member States and China represented by the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources. CEWP is supported by the EU and the People's Republic of China. It promotes policy dialogue on water sector reforms and encourages capacity-building, technical and business cooperation. The latest meetings of the China Europe Platform was the 8th High Level Dialogue Conference China Europe Platform took place on 22nd January 2021.
The Bilateral Cooperation Mechanism (BCM) on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance and Trade (FLEGT), with the Chinese State Forestry Administration, aims to tackle illegal logging and associated trade through domestic measures (information, legal frameworks and policies) and through joint work with other countries, including in Southeast Asia and Africa, to stem the trade in illegally logged timber. The EU FLEGT Action Plan includes the EU Timber Regulation, which aims to reduce illegal logging by ensuring that no illegal timber or timber products can be sold in the EU. In July 2021, the Commission proposed the New EU Forest Strategy 2030.
Through technical projects, the EU also engages with the National Forestry and Grassland Administration on wildlife protection and implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) .
Cooperation on climate change is a high priority for the EU and China. In 2005, the EU and China agreed to establish the Climate Change Partnership to provide a high-level framework for cooperation and dialogue on climate change policies, to exchange views on key issues in international climate change negotiations and to encourage low-carbon technology development and uptake.
Later, the 2018 leaders' statement on climate change and energy and an MOU to enhance cooperation of Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS) reinforced the targets of that partnership. Under the ETS MoU, the two sides confirmed their commitments under the Paris Agreement and agreed to step up cooperation to implement and promote low greenhouse gas emissions, climate resilient and sustainable development. The EU and China further agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, namely:
- Long-term development strategies for low greenhouse gas emissions;
- Emissions trading;
- Energy efficiency;
- Clean energy;
- Low-emission transport;
- Low-carbon cities;
- Cooperation in climate-related technology, including in Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS);
- Investment in climate and clean energy projects;
- Adaption to climate change and resilience;
- Cooperation with other developing countries.
In the 1st EU-China High Level Environment and Climate Dialogue in February 2021, both sides restated their commitment to work closely together, as well as to take leadership in pressing ahead the international process and delivering the goals of the Paris Agreement. Regular exchanges are also taking place at technical level under the leadership of EU Director Generals Mauro Petriccione and Florika Fink Hoojier and Mr. Zhao Yingmin, China’s Vice Minister of Environment in preparation for every key milestones, starting with the yearly climate COP.
EU and China share common interests and goals for energy security, global energy markets and clean energy transition. They are jointly responsible for one third of the world's final energy consumption. The EU’s energy cooperation with China thus focuses on supporting both sides’ clean energy transition while keeping in mind energy security. Such transition is a prerequisite to successfully implement the Paris Agreement and to provide their citizens with clean, sustainable and affordable energy.
In April 2019, during the 8th EU-China Energy Dialogue, the EU and China signed the Joint Statement on the Implementation of EU-China Energy Cooperation. Later in May that year, the EU-China Energy Cooperation Platform (ECECP) was launched in Beijing.
The ECECP has been established as a practical tool to support and operationalise the Energy Dialogue and to deliver on the specific objectives of EU-China bilateral energy cooperation. The overall objective of the project is to enhance EU-China cooperation on energy, in line with the EU’s Energy Union, the Clean Energy for All Europeans initiative and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. This enhanced cooperation will help increase mutual trust and understanding between the EU and China, and contribute to a global transition towards clean energy on the basis of a common vision of a sustainable, reliable and secure energy system. The Platform is jointly steered by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Energy and the Chinese National Energy Administration. In addition to supporting policy dialogue and cooperation, the Platform will also create opportunities for EU innovative energy companies.
On 22 June 2020, during the EU-China Summit, EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and the Administrator of the National Energy Administration of China Mr ZHANG Jianhua co-hosted 9th EU-China Energy Dialogue.
The dialogue focused on clean energy policies, in the context of both parties’ efforts to overcome the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Discussions addressed the EU Recovery Plan and the European Green Deal and China’s measures to stimulate clean energy development, as well as the shared responsibility to promote green energy investments in third countries. Commissioner Simson and Administrator Zhang also discussed security issues of the global energy markets, diversification of currencies for energy transactions, progress on power market reforms in the EU and China, as well as energy innovation and business cooperation. European and Chinese businesses presented their views on the opportunities and challenges of energy investment in China.
Commissioner Simson and Administrator Zhang reviewed progress on the Joint Statement on the Implementation of the EU-China Energy Cooperation, which was signed in the margins of the 2019 EU-China Summit. They also took stock of the progress of the EU-China Energy Cooperation Platform (ECECP), launched in May 2019, and discussed activities that are planned under the second Annual Work Programme of the Platform.
Over the past two and half years, the Platform has provided a venue for numerous conferences and dialogues. It generated several comparative studies and reports, that provide useful conclusions and recommendations on developing capacity and integration of renewable energy, reform of the energy market, among other issues. The Platform will continue to mobilize a wide range of energy players in China and the EU and to push political declarations into tangible actions.
EU-China Energy Cooperation Platform (English): http://www.ececp.eu/en/ (external link)
iv. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
EU cooperation with China has a long history, and is managed on the EU side by the European Commission Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), under the leadership of Commissioner Virginijus SINKEVIČIUS.
At the 20th EU-China Summit, held in Beijing on 16 July 2018, the two sides expressed their satisfaction with the successful EU-China Blue Year in 2017 and agreed on a Blue Partnership for the Oceans as a means to improve cooperation aiming at better ocean governance, sustainable fisheries, and a thriving maritime economy between the EU and China. Both sides also reaffirmed their commitment to fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and their shared interest in dialogue on matters related to the Law of the Sea and polar affairs.
At the 21st EU-China summit, held in Brussels on 9 April 2019, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment towards the effective implementation of the Blue Partnership for the Oceans, including cooperation on promoting sustainable fisheries and fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and exchanges on the conservation and sustainable use of Antarctic marine living resources, including by the establishment of marine protected areas in the Antarctic Ocean. The two sides endorsed the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles promoting sustainable investment in the oceans.
In this context, Mr Karmenu VELLA, then European Commissioner for Environment, Ocean Affairs and Fisheries, hosted the 1st EU – China Blue Partnership Forum for the Oceans in Brussels on 5 September 2019 for European and Chinese stakeholders, including representatives of EU Member States, business, academia, think tanks and NGOs, to discuss topics of common interest and identify possible joint actions.
The EU and China meet annually for High Level Dialogues (HLDs) in three related areas: HLD on Ocean Affairs; HLD on Fisheries; and HLD on Law of the Sea and Polar Affairs. Due to restrictions connected to the COVID pandemic, the three dialogues took place in virtual format (online) in 2020.
Transport is a core element of the EU-China relationship, crucial for advancing people-to-people relations, investment and trade. In 2019, before the COVID pandemic, there were over 200 flights weekly between China and Europe. That year, 19.1 million Europeans visited China, and 15.5 million Chinese citizens travelled to Europe. Shipping, and more recently rail cargo, are the basis for our bilateral trading relationship.
The EU Delegation works closely with its counterparts in China, with EU Member States, with EU companies and with the EU-China Chamber of Commerce to ensure success, as well as to resolve any issues.
International transport links have been severely affected since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic in late 2019.
Caption: EU Ambassador Nicolas CHAPUIS meets Minister for Transport LI Xiaopeng, Beijing, 1 June 2021
Sustainably and Smart Mobility
The European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, adopted on 9 December 2020, sets targets for the next 10-30 years, aimed at enabling the EU transport system to achieve green and digital transformation, and to become more resilient when facing future crises.
The EU and China face similar challenges related to transport, notably pollution, accidents and congestion. There is potential for cooperation to stimulate decarbonisation and modernisation of the world transport and mobility system, working together bilaterally and in international organisations.
EU-China Connectivity Platform
In an effort to improve transport connectivity, the European Commission Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG MOVE) and the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) established a Connectivity Platform in 2015.
The main objective is to explore potential to improve transport links between Europe and Asia in a sustainable manner and based on market principles. Both sides have committed to openness, transparency and a level playing field.
In July 2018, the two sides reached agreement to carry out a Joint Study on sustainable railway-based comprehensive transport corridors between Europe and China, to define the most appropriate railway corridors, to identify bottlenecks, and to identify and prioritise the missing links to improve the capacity and efficiency of rail corridors. The fourth Chairs’ Meeting of the EU-China Connectivity Platform in April 2019 endorsed the Terms of Reference of the Joint Study.
LINK TO PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWING HoD MEETING WITH MINISTER LI on 1 June 2021
Terms of Reference of the Joint Study on Sustainable Railway-based Comprehensive Transport Corridors between Europe and China
Minutes of the 4th Chairs Meeting of the EU-China Connectivity Platform - EN
Minutes of the 4th Chairs Meeting of the EU-China Connectivity Platform – CH