EU and China conclude investment deal

After almost seven years of deadlock, the EU's negotiations with China on an investment agreement were concluded at the turn of the year. The deal gives Europe's companies easier access to the world's largest and fastest-growing market. Increased cooperation with China was a primary concern of the German EU presidency - but is likely to displease the new US administration. Many commentators are also disgruntled.

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Financial Times (GB) /

A huge geostrategic mistake

The EU will live to regret the deal, the Financial Times predicts:

“If an authoritarian nation, such as China, displaces America as the dominant global power, then democracies all over the world will feel the consequences. Even in the current geopolitical order, China has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to use its economic power as a strategic weapon. By deepening their economic reliance on China - without co-ordinating their policy with fellow democracies - European nations are increasing their vulnerability to pressure from Beijing. That is a remarkably shortsighted decision to make, for a 'geopolitical commission'.” (PL) /

Germany wants to benefit from polarisation

For, the agreement bears the signature of the German government:

“Clearly, the main reason why Berlin pushed the EU into the agreement is political. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasised on July 1st, at the beginning of Germany's six-month EU Council presidency, that Germany wants to be a 'mediator' between Washington and Beijing. ... In other words: the world is to become bipolar. In such a world, however, decisions would be made over the heads of the Europeans, who would have to take sides on every major political step. In this way Germany would be able to tip the scales as the 'honest mediator' between the warring powers, with all the advantages that such a position brings with it.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Dialogue more effective than rejection

The agreement is better than it is being made out to be, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung counters:

“An investment agreement is not a vehicle for changing a regime. ... And we should not harbour any illusions: the Chinese regime will always find ways to enforce its ideas vis-à-vis private interests. ... Nevertheless the cooperation bodies and mechanisms for resolving disputes provided for in the agreement will at least make it easier to denounce violations of obligations and take action against them. Dialogue is more effective than rejection. For systemic competition to remain peaceful and productive, we must cooperate and agree on certain rules of the game.”