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International Issues

General co-operation with China

Relations between the EU and China have developed fast since diplomatic ties were established over 40 years ago. The EU has an extensive cooperation with China, both at political and technical level. The EU and China face the common task of achieving innovative, inclusive and sustainable development. To face profound and complex changes of the world as important actors in a multipolar world, EU and China developed the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation.


Environmental co-operation

The main channels for EU-China environmental dialogue with the Chinese government are:

  1. Since 2003, the Environment Policy Dialogue (EPD) is held at ministerial level. The EPD meets regularly, alternating between Brussels and China. This high-level dialogue gives partners the opportunity to discuss how to accelerate bilateral collaboration to better respond to common challenges and support a global transition to a resource-efficient model including topics like biodiversity, water and circular economy, see Memorandum of Understanding on Circular Economy Cooperation of 2018. The last meeting took place virtually in April 2021, focusing on biodiversity in the run up to the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CoP 15). Read the press release. In 2019, the meeting took place in Beijing and focused on biodiversity, pollution prevention and control, green growth, technical cooperation and policy exchange on the issues. Read the press release.
  2. In 2009, the EU established with the Chinese State Forestry Administration (SFA) a Bilateral Coordination Mechanism (BCM) on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (FLEG). The 2019 BCM Work Plan included an information exchange on promotion of legally sourced timber and timber products between China, the EU and Voluntary Partnership Agreement countries, but also the implementation of relevant guidelines by developing a country specific handbook.

In addition to the above-mentioned dialogues, there are also:

  • Annual Summits: The last EU-China Summit took place in June 2020, see main results of the videoconference and also statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel.
  • Cooperation Programmes and initiatives: Among the main environment-related programmes /initiatives are the following:
    • The China-Europe Water Platform (CEWP). Established in 2012, the platform aims to achieve an integrated approach to water management in China. The CEWP is a political initiative and a partnership for promoting policy dialogue on water sector reforms, encouraging capacity-building, technical and business cooperation. It has a flexible structure and is seeing and increasing number of EU Member States wishing to participate in its activities. Further information.
    • In 2016, a Circular Economy Mission (CEM) to China took place. The mission focused on topics related to eco-innovation, chemicals and plastic, waste, water management, marine pollution and urban environment best practices.
    • Other environment-related thematic workshops, projects and study visits, see for instance the EU-CHINA Workshop on Soil Pollution held in February 2017 or the URBAN-EU-CHINA Innovation Platform on Sustainable Urbanisation that ended in 2019.
    • The EU-China Environment Project (2018-2020) aims to support the EU-China environmental policy dialogue to support EU and China on environmental governance and greater integration of environment into other areas of government decision making, see here for more information.
  • High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue (HED): EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue Mechanism is a high level meeting for discussing economic, trade and related matters, see press release of the 8th HED. Further information can be found here.


Further information

In addition, a number of projects and programmes have also been launched. For further information on these projects, please see: Website of the Delegation of the EU to China, EU-China –A strategic outlook, and EU-China Relations factsheet.