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Prospects and Challenges for EU-China Relations in the 21st Century

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement

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Edited By Jing Men and Giuseppe Balducci

In 25 years, EU-China relations have come far, further than many could have imagined – but how much further can these relations be taken? Today, their bilateral relations are at a crossroads. In effect, it has been 25 years since the EU and China agreed upon the legally binding Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement, which sets the basis for their diplomatic relations. In an ever increasingly complex and globalised international environment, these actors have become mutually interdependent on a variety of levels. In 2007, they agreed to revise and update the 1985 accord and replace it with an all-encompassing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. However, more than three years passed, and there are many points of contention which need to be negotiated. What obstacles are blocking this agreement? How can these obstacles be overcome? What concessions should be made and where?
This book will provide an up-to-date analysis of the problematic concerns, and the means to resolve these issues, that range from human rights, to international trade conflicts and climate change.

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CHAPTER 1 EU-China Relations in a New World Order. Status, Dynamics, Scenarios (Andrew Cottey & Joern-Carsten Gottwald) 33

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33 CHAPTER 1 EU-China Relations in a New World Order Status, Dynamics, Scenarios Andrew COTTEY & Joern-Carsten GOTTWALD1 Since the 1980s relations between the European Union (EU) and China have deepened significantly. Bilateral trade has expanded dramatically and a web of institutionalised diplomatic and technical ties has been established. Leaders on both sides have referred to the EU-China relationship as a “maturing partnership,”2 a “comprehensive strategic partnership”3 and an “all-around strategic partnership.”4 It was in this context that negotiations began in 2007 for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) to replace the 1985 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (TECA) which remains the legal basis for relations. In late 2008, however, relations suffered something of a setback when China unexpectedly withdrew from the annual EU-China summit in protest at French President Nicolas Sarkozy meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader (France also at this point held the EU’s rotating Presidency, leading the Chinese to argue that Sarkozy was de facto acting on the EU’s behalf). Furthermore, in 2009, a widely noted report from the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) argued that the failure of EU member states to develop a truly common policy and their reluctance to confront difficult issues resulted in a China policy that amounted to 1 Research for this chapter was supported by an Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) Government of Ireland Small Research Project Grant (2008-09) entitled ‘China, Ireland and the European Union: Distant Partners, Global Competitors?’. 2 Commission...

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