DG REGIO supporting cooperation between EU and Chinese cities and regions to tackle China's urbanisation challenges
Director General Walter Deffaa travelled to Beijing on 28-30 January in the framework of the EU-China Regional Policy Dialogue where he met his counterpart Liu Sushe, Director-General of the regional development department of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The aim was to take stock of cooperation actions during 2014, to discuss the work programme for 2015 and to begin preparations for a Joint Statement for the Tenth EU-China regional policy high-level dialogue which will be organised later this year back-to-back with the next EU-China Summit. Mr Deffaa was accompanied by Ana-Paula Laissy, Head of Unit, and Ramon Lopez, international relations officer as well as ten representatives of the EU regions of Lower Silesia, Upper Austria and Lazio, the same three EU regions which had participated in the EU-China regional policy cooperation programme during 2014 as counterparts to the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Guangzhou and Tianjin, respectively.
The agreement reached with NDRC on priorities for 2015 included the establishment of a mechanism for knowledge exchange between cities covering specific thematic areas. Through this city-to-city cooperation, firstly, a knowledge bank will be developed on urban policy projects with concrete examples of actions undertaken, and, secondly, companies, including SMEs, on both sides will be brought together with the aim of generating business opportunities in the provision of goods and services for urban development
In the premises of the EU Delegation, Beijing, DG Deffaa had the opportunity to brief EU28 Ambassadors to China in the presence of Commission Trade DG Jean-Luc Demarty who was undertaking a parallel visit. He informed ambassadors that the regional and urban policy dialogue had been very active and given rise to many individual actions, drawing attention to the exchange programme known as CETREGIO which has created strong links between EU and Chinese cities and regions. Since 2010, 220 Chinese decision makers from all 31 provinces have shared experiences and visited good policy practices in more than 45 regions of 17 EU Member States. Involvement of the private sector has been very important in this context
Just in 2014, 17 project and cooperation bilateral agreements were signed between local authorities, regional development agencies, chambers of commerce, tourism agencies and SME promotion bureaux from participating European and Chinese cities, the most recent being Walbrzych (Lower Silesia) and Tianjin City Hongqiao Distict in the framework of the visit. (picture).
DG Deffaa visited the sino-European Airbus assembly plant in the Tianjin Airport Economic Area, and held meetings with the Executive Vice-Mayor of Tianjin and the Director-General of the Tianjin Development and Reform Commission. Tianjin is notable for the fact that in 2013 it achieved China’s highest level of per-capita GDP and has become the pilot city with the most industrial investment funds in China. Its pillar industries are the electronic information technologies, automotive, bio-tech and pharmaceutical, metallurgy and petrochemical industries.
China has chosen a development model based on rapid urbanisation and the challenges for the authorities at all levels are huge. In numerical terms, each year an additional 15 million people (more than the population of London or Paris) migrate to urban settlements. During the next 7 years, it is estimated that the investment needs in new urban housing, infrastructure, services, etc. will amount to €3.6 trillion. The potential fruits of cooperation are therefore very large for the business community. There is keen interest at all levels, including at the highest political level, in the co-operation with the EU in tackling China's urbanisation challenges.