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

The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement


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 2 The Current Legal Foundation and Prospective Legal Framework of the PCA (Kim Van Der Borght & Lei Zhang) 53


53 CHAPTER 2 The Current Legal Foundation and Prospective Legal Framework of the PCA Kim VAN DER BORGHT & Lei ZHANG This paper examines hard law and soft law as the legal foundation of EU-China relations over the past thirty years, and, based on the analysis of these legal instruments, prospective studies and legal forms of the new EU-China framework agreement.1 Diplomatic relations between the EU and China started in 1975. Since the very beginning of bilateral relations, trade and economic cooperation have dominated EU-China relations. The first legal instrument which governed bilateral trade and economic activities was the 1978 Trade Agreement, which was soon replaced by an updated agreement – the 1985 Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement (TECA). The 1985 TECA is still applicable as the main legal instrument to regulate bilateral trade and economic activities although the contents have already been outdated. In order to adapt to the rapid expansion of bilateral trade, the EU and China entered into several agreements covering specific aspects concerning trade and economic cooperation. After China’s accession to the WTO in 2001, the two parties committed to agreements under the WTO framework. EU law and Chinese law, to some extent, have effects on bilateral relations as well. These bilateral and multilateral agreements constitute, with the respective domestic laws, the core of the legal foundation of EU-China trade and economic relations. They represent the hard law component. Meanwhile, the EU and China established more than 20 sectoral dialogues at different levels to improve mutual understanding and...

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