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Since more than 30 years the European Commission and China enjoy diplomatic relations, enshrined in the EU-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement signed in 1985. Over the course of the last decades we have established a series of so-called Sectoral Dialogues where the EU and China cooperate in specific areas. EC-China relations on energy are one of these dialogue series, and in fact constitute one of the most constructive areas of cooperation between the EC and China. Today the relations are marked by a mutual understanding of the added value of cooperation in the field of energy.

Energy cooperation has been in existence since 1994 and is one of the earliest Sectoral Dialogues between the European Commission and its Chinese partner in EU-China foreign relations. At present, DG ENER activity is China is orchestrated around three axes.

A High-Level annual Energy Dialogue with the National Energy Administration of China (NEA) is being pursued since 2005. Such Dialogue feeds its conclusions in the annual EU-China Summit. Six priority areas have been identified for cooperation between the EC and China in the field of energy: Renewable energy, smart grids, energy efficiency in the building sector, clean coal, nuclear energy and energy law. The main counterpart of DG ENER in what concerns energy efficiency is the Ministry of Housing and Urban/Rural Development. For the last four years, MoHURD and DG ENER organised jointly an annual technical conference on the issue, with increasing visibility and success.   

The third axe, the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership, is more recent: it was signed on 3rd May 2012 between President Barroso and Premier Li Keqiang.  The Urbanization Partnership aims to provide an open political platform for EU and Chinese stakeholders to cooperate and share experiences in addressing the economic, social and environmental challenges of urbanization.

It is articulated around an annual Urbanisation Forum (organised back-to-back to the EU-China Summit), including an EU-China Mayors' Forum, a number of thematic sub-fora and an Exhibition on Urbanisation, which report to the Summit.

It is the first instrument of this kind, taking into account that it is of cross-sector nature and it involves new stakeholders like local authorities.

The expected benefits of the Partnership for the EU are: lower resource demand from Chinese cities (therefore less GHG emissions, less tension in world energy and raw material markets, more social harmony and stability in China); new business opportunities for EU companies, closer co-operation between sub-national authorities on a win-win approach, support to respectful integration of immigrants.

2012 EU-China Mayors' Forum

The first EU-China Mayors Forum, held in Brussels on 19-20 September, gathered more than 600 participants, including a 100-strong Chinese delegation: 28 European and Chinese Mayors, some representatives of 50 other cities/regions, and many more stakeholders and individual experts, for two days of exchanges on the challenges and opportunities for cooperation in sustainable urban development.

The Mayors Forum is the flagship event of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership, launched by President Barroso and Premier Wen in the preceding Summit of February 2012. The Partnership will offer a natural framework for concerted actions, such as a new programme designed to assist Chinese mayors, and the creation of this EU-China Urban Forum. The political initiative should also constitute a platform for Member States to leverage their existing and future actions in the field of urbanisation in China.

The EU-China Mayors Forum is a Summit-level deliverable: it was called into existence by Premier Wen and the EU leaders at the 14th Summit in Beijing in February 2012, was organised back-to-back with the 15th EU-China Summit in Brussels, and duly reported in the Joint Statement issued on the same occasion. It is major opportunity for EU interests: Vice-Minister Qiu stated that China is going to invest more than 10 trillion RMB (circa 1 trillion EUR) in green transport connecting smaller-size cities, in public welfare and social protection (including green social housing), in resilience of cities and disaster management. Renewable energy will play an important role in urban areas. Half of the global volume of construction will take place in China in the next ten years, and cities with 1million+ inhabitants will be very common. MoHURD is planning more than 100 greenfield "satellite eco-cities" of more than 250.000 people each.

14 Chinese Mayors signed the "EU-China Mayors Charter" with an equivalent number of EU counterparts. This is a breakthrough that paves the way for more Chinese cities to join the Charter in the close future, among other things.

In the margins of the summit, Commissioner Piebalgs (who delivered the closing speech at the Mayors Forum) signed with MofCom Minister Chen Deming the Financial Agreement for the new EUR10-million "Europe-China Eco-Cities" EC-LINK project. At cruising speed, the EC LINK will provide apermanent secretariat and bilingual internet platform to sustain the exchanges of best practices and bilateral contacts initiated during the EU-China Mayors Forum.

Several Commission DGs (REGIO, RTD, MOVE, EAC), the Committee of Regions, the EESC, the European Parliament, think-tanks (Friends of Europe), EU-funded projects (EC2), the business community (European Chamber of Commerce in China, individual companies such as Danfoss, Véolia or Suez), industry associations such as Euroheat&Power, ….. joined forces with DG ENER to organise the two days of events.

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On 3 May 2012, Vice-Premier Li's visit to Brussels provided an important opportunity to further strengthen the EU-China partnership, took stock of progress in the implementation of the 14th EU-China Summit held in February 2012 in Beijing and prepared the next Summit to be held next autumn in Brussels.

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Vice-Premier Li Keqiang's visit was marked by two important events:

  • The High Level Conference on Urbanisation, launching the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership
  • The first EU-China High Level Meeting on Energy

The EU and China have signed at the occasion of the High Level Meeting on Energy:



2013 EU-China Summit, Urbanisation Forum and Energy Dialogue

The 16th EU-China Summit was held on Thursday 21 November. The top major highlights in the field of Energy and Urbanisation were:

1. The "EU-China Urbanisation Forum" was held at the highest level

After two flagship events held in Europe in 2012 (one half-day in May 2012 with NDRC for the visit of LI Keqiang, and the two-day "EU-China Mayors Forum" with MoHURD in September 2012), this year's "EU-China Urbanisation Forum" was the first to be organised in Beijing. The Great Hall of the People served as the venue for the afternoon Plenary session, and the event received the highest degree of political endorsement and recognition, with speeches at the closing ceremony delivered by Premier LI Keqiang, President Van Rompuy, and President Barroso.

Overall, urbanisation is a core priority of the new Chinese leaders, and the Forum took Europe and China to an unprecedented level of engagement on this strategic topic. The arrangements for the EU-China Urbanisation Forum included:

  • the personal participation of the Premier
  • mobilisation of five Chinese Ministries (minimum Vice-Minister level) : NDRC, MoHURD, MIIT, supported by Ministry of Environmental Protection MEP and Ministry of Culture MoC
  • more than a dozen of Chinese Mayors
  • carefully selected Chinese experts and businessmen having a stake in sustainable urbanisation (more than 500 Chinese delegates)
  • a comprehensive spectrum of issues were discussed, from urban mobility to smart cities to protection of cultural heritage

2. Twelve new pairing were signed by city representatives and witnessed by the Leaders

The pairing of cities is one of the main delivery mechanisms for the Partnership, to achieve concrete and tangible results on the ground. For this edition, a first batch of 12 pairings did receive the dual clearance from the NDRC and from the EU side.

The twelve EU cities and other bodies that signed those partnerships deserve special recognition as pioneers for a new way of undertaking positive international relations for the benefit of mankind. Both the President and the Commissioners expressed their thanks to them. 

3. Energy paragraph in the "EU-China Agenda 2020" agreed at the Summit

Under the third chapter "Sustainable Development", the Energy paragraph lists the following six points:

  1. Reinforce cooperation on energy issues, with a special emphasis on global energy security within the framework of the Energy Dialogue.
  2. Implement a roadmap for EU-China energy cooperation, in order to reinforce exchanges and cooperation in fields of energy legislation, policy and standard formulation.
  3. Further explore cooperation in low-carbon energy technologies, which will support sustainable economic growth.
  4. Bring into play such existing cooperation platforms as the EU-China Clean Energy Centre (EC2), encourage enterprises to take part in EC2 enterprise alliance and cooperate on pilot projects.
  5. Address the issue of nuclear energy development in a safe and secure manner through a general EURATOM agreement and closer scientific cooperation.
  6. Reinforce cooperation in energy regulation in order to share experience and promote best practices both regionally and internationally, thereby enhancing consistency in energy policy-making in each country as well as the efficiency of the energy market. China as an observer to the Energy Charter Conference by invitation will further develop its relationship with the Energy Charter.

Under the third chapter "Sustainable Development", the Urbanisation paragraph lists the following four points:

  1. Carry out cooperation and promote advanced technology and managerial experience in sustainable urban development planning, urban infrastructure and management and urban-rural integration, including transparent and equitable consultative procedures with public and business stakeholders.
  2. Ensure the success of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership Forum, the EU-China City Expo and the EU-China Mayors' Forum, improve the governing framework of the EU-China Partnership, support the development of numerous relevant city pairings and steer EU-China urbanisation cooperation by the Joint Steering Committee of the EU-China Urbanisation Partnership. Support the development of EC-Link as a co-operation platform to enhance the impact of the Partnership.
  3. Conduct dialogues and share experience on urban planning and design, urban socio-economic issues, good administration, natural and cultural heritage preservation, green and low-carbon development, disaster prevention and control, urban mobility and eco-buildings and construction standards in the building sector.
  4. Actively build demonstration cities, support EU-China urban cooperation projects, promote cooperation between cities, and between cities and industrial parks and enterprises, creating a level playing field for all stakeholders involved, and reinforcing cooperation in the fields of finance and innovation to elevate the quality and level of urban development.

4. New "Joint Declaration on Energy Security" paraphed during the signing ceremony of the Summit

In recognition of the recent restructuring of the National Energy Administration (merger with SERC) and related change of leadership, a new Joint Declaration on Energy Security was signed during the Summit, between NEA Administrator WU Xinxiong and Energy Commissioner Oettinger.

5. Sixth EU-China Energy Dialogue with NEA

The sixth EU-China Energy Dialogue was hosted by NEA at the Daoyutai State Guesthouse on Wednesday 20th November, back-to-back with the EU-China Summit of 21st November. As usual, the dialogue was held at Ministerial level, between Energy Commissioner Oettinger and his new counterpart NEA Administrator WU Xinxiong.

Three themes were emphasised this year:

  • Electricity market reform and integration of innovative technologies
  • Gas Legislation and Gas Market reform in medium-to-long term
  • Energy strategy and sustainable use of energy

6. The start of the "Europe-China Eco-Cities" EC-LINK project was announced

While the EU-China Urbanisation Forum was primarily co-organised with NDRC, adequate visibility was eventually secured for the new bilateral project prepared with MoHURD, i.e. the "Europe-China Eco-Cities" EC-LINK project:

  • the project is now duly recognized in the "Agenda 2020" as a major cooperation platform for the Urbanisation Partnership
  • at the closing ceremony of the Urbanisation Forum, MoHURD Vice-Minister Qiu Baoxing and EU Ambassador Ederer exchanged letters on EC-LINK, in front of Premier LI Keqiang and EU leaders

7. High marks for the "EU-China Exhibition on Urban Development 2013" 

The first ever "EU-China Exhibition on Urban Development" was organised over four days (20-23 November) at the Beijing Exhibition Centre, by the China Centre for Urban Development (CCUD) under the patronage of NDRC and of DG Energy of the European Commission. The opening ceremony was attended by Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli and European Commission's Vice-President Kallas on 20th November, and several other EU Commissioners and NDRC dignitaries also took a VIP tour of the Expo in the subsequent days.

The EU expertise was fully on display thanks to more than 60 entities, present on 34 separate stands. Besides the 18000m2 of exhibitors space, a very dense programme of workshops and seminars was assembled by CCUD and other relevant stakeholders. In total, the Beijing Exhibition Centre recorded more than 70 000 visitors over the four days of the Expo.


Forums & Conferences

Since 1994, bi-annual conferences take place between the EC and MOST

Since 2005, annual energy dialogue with the NEA is being pursued

Once a year, energy issues are discussed between Heads of States at the EU-China summits