China and the EU share a strong focus on green transformation. China’s 13th Five Year Plan sets a clear path towards green development, whilst the EU is working towards green growth under the goals of Europe 2020 and the 7th Environmental Action Programme.
The main channels for EU-China environmental dialogue with the Chinese government are:
The Environment Policy Dialogue (EPD), held at ministerial level (since 2003), under which principles_for_technical_cooperation.pdf were agreed in 2017. The latest EPD in April 2019 agreed on exchanges on strategic issues of biodiversity conservation, waste & chemical management, protection of the marine environment, pollution prevention and control and environmental governance and international cooperation on sustainable development ;
Circular Economy is an important political priority both in the EU and in China. On 16 July 2018, the MoU on Circular Economy Cooperation was signed by Mr. Jyrki Katainen, Vice-President of the European Commission and Mr. He Lifeng, Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, at the EU-China Summit. This allows the EU and China to establish a ministerial dialogue to work together to accelerate bilateral collaboration to better respond to common challenges and support a global transition to a resource-efficient and circular economic model in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. 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 will include but not be limited to dialogue on the design, planning, and implementation of strategies, legislation, policies, and research in areas of mutual interest, including major new initiatives; strategic exchanges on management systems and policy tools such as eco-design, eco-labelling, extended producer responsibility and green supply chains; strategic exchanges on best practices of circular economy in key fields such as industrial parks, chemicals, plastics and waste; exchanges on investments in and financing of circular economy.
As a reinforcement of Cooperation between the EU and China on water, both sides agreed to upgrade the level of cooperation to a ministerial level dialogue in 2017. The first Meeting of the EU-China Water Policy Dialogue was co-chaired by EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Mr. Karmenu Vella and Mr. E Jingping, Minister of Ministry of Water Resources of China on 2 April 2019. Besides this high-level dialogue, the EU plays a crucial role in supporting the China-Europe Water Platform (link is external) (CEWP), established in 2012, to encourage an integrated approach to water management in China. The CEWP is a partnership with the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources, involving many EU Member States. It promotes policy dialogue on water sector reforms and encourages capacity-building, technical and business cooperation.
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. The latest briefing note on developments relevant to the implementation and enforcement of the EU Timber Regulation covering the period April to June 2017 is available here；
Through technical projects, the EU also engages with the National Forestry and Grassland Administration on wildlife protection and CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) implementation.
Cooperation on climate change is a high priority for the EU and China. In 2005, the EU and China agreed to form a 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 encourage low-carbon technology development and uptake. This was reinforced by the 2018 leaders' statement on climate change and energy as well as the MOU to enhance cooperation of Emissions Trading Schemes (ETS), where the two sides confirmed their commitments under the Paris Agreement and to step up cooperation to enhance its implementation and promote low greenhouse gas emissions, climate resilient and sustainable development. They further agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation in a number of areas:
- Long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies
- emissions trading
- energy efficiency
- clean energy
- low-emission transport
- low-carbon cities
- climate-related technology cooperation (including Carbon Capture & Storage [CCS])
- investment in climate and clean energy projects
- adaption and climate resilience
- cooperation with other developing countries
The 8th EU-China Energy Dialogue was held in Brussels between Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Cañete and the Administrator of the National Energy Administration of China Mr ZHANG Jianhua, back-to-back with the 21st EU-China Leaders’ Summit on 9 April 2019.
On this occasion, a Joint Statement on the implementation of EU-China Energy Cooperation was signed, in the presence of Donald Tusk, President of the Council of Europe, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and China's Premier Li Keqiang. The signature of the Joint Statement marks a new chapter in this long-standing and ongoing cooperation. Four priority areas for future cooperation have been identified, with the overarching goal to further advance the clean energy transition:
- energy efficiency
- renewable energy sources
- design and transformation of the energy system
- the role of innovative actors
The EU-China Energy Cooperation Platform (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.
In mid-May 2019, the Platform was officially launched in Beijing; and in early July, a big conference titled "Promoting and Integrating Renewable Energy in China: Challenges and Opportunities" was organized, providing an opportunity for participants from various Chinese governmental bodies, research entities, grid operators and regulators, as well as foreign experts and representatives of EU energy companies active in China to discuss policies and identify solutions to support integration of various renewables in the energy system of China. In the second half of 2019, under the platform, other events (workshops, conferences and site visits) on various energy topics, e.g. energy efficiency, electricity market, and renewables, were scheduled.
Related document: Joint Statement on the Implementation of the EU-China Cooperation on Energy
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
The EU and China have a longstanding cooperation on ocean affairs and the organisation of the EU-China Blue Year in 2017 created further momentum to strengthen bilateral cooperation. The "Blue Partnership for the Oceans: towards better ocean governance, sustainable fisheries and a thriving maritime economy" was signed at the 20th EU-China Summit on 16 July 2018 in Beijing. The Ocean Partnership with China was the first of its kind and sets out a comprehensive framework for cooperation in the domain of the oceans. In April 2019, at the EU-China Summit, political leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the effective implementation of the Blue Partnership for the Oceans, including cooperation on promoting sustainable fisheries and fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. In particular, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the exchange on the conservation and sustainable use of Antarctic marine living resources, including the establishment of marine protected areas in the Antarctic Ocean.
On 5 September 2019, European Commissioner Karmenu VELLA invited more than 150 European and Chinese stakeholders, including Member States representatives, the business sector, academia, think tanks and NGOs to discuss a number of topics of common interest and identify possible joint actions in these areas. Click here for more information.
The fourth meeting of the EU-China Connectivity Platform was held in the margins of the 21st EU-China Summit on 9 April in Brussels. Leaders from both sides addressed the huge potential to further connect Europe and Asia in a sustainable manner and based on market principles, and looked at ways to create synergies between the EU’s approach to connectivity, including the Trans-European Transport Network, and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Leaders committed to openness, transparency and a level playing field in the area of infrastructure connectivity, as well as mutually beneficial implementation of the EU-China Connectivity Platform projects. Leaders also welcomed the agreement reached under the Connectivity Platform on the Terms of Reference for a Joint Study to identify the most sustainable railways-based transport corridors between Europe and China.
Multiple activities have been carried out under the EU-China Connectivity Platform in 2019. A technical seminar was held in February, at which both sides shared their respective experience and practices on comprehensive transport policy planning; in July, the 5th Expert Group Meeting took place in Beijing at the premises of the China Development Bank, where the EU and China showcased pilot projects; and in October, a training seminar on EU transport policies and transport infrastructure investment policies was organised for 14 local government officials. A technical seminar and thematic working group meeting were scheduled at the end of November.
Meeting 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