EU - China

China is facing considerable regional development disparities between the booming coastal regions, the underdeveloped Western parts of the country and the decline of traditional heavy industry in the North East and more general income disparities, particularly in relation to the urban/rural divide.

The reforms initiated in China, at the end of the 1970s released the development potential of the coastal provinces, leading to the emergence of the Pearl River Delta, the Yangzi River Delta and the Bohai Circum as drivers of China's growth. In parallel, provinces such as Sichuan, Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Guizhou, Shanxi, Ningxia and Gansu, fell in "low income and slow growth trap". In the Northeast provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, the declining competitiveness of both the industrial and agriculture bases led to massive unemployment and an eroded tax base. These concurrent phenomena produced a significant increase of regional disparities in China, which, in the past years, has been a major concern for Chinese authorities.

On 15 May 2006, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on regional policy cooperation was signed with the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission to exchange information and best practices on experiences in setting up and implementing cohesion policy.

signature in china

By launching the co-operation with China on regional policy, the Commission followed up upon the commitment taken at the 7th China-EU Summit of December 2004 where balanced development and regional policy were identified as key areas on which both sides should share information and experience. Accordingly, the MoU between the NDRC and the Commission aims to promote mutual understanding and bilateral co-operation in the field of regional policy and to strengthen the exchange of information on the policy's contribution to growth, competitiveness and employment. The MoU provides a basis for sharing EU experiences in setting up and implementing regional policy; in governance and partnership issues and in any other topics of mutual interest relating to regional policy.

The exchange programme known as CETREGIO (Chinese European Training on Regional Policy) has created strong links between EU and Chinese cities and regions. In the period 2010-2014, 220 Chinese decision makers from all 31 provinces have shared experiences and visited good practices in more than 45 regions of 17 EU Member States.

China was one of the four non-EU countries selected in 2015-2016 to participate in the EU regional and urban policy action in the field of international cooperation, known as World Cities); which pairs the cities of Wuhan–Barcelona (ES); Chengdu–Dublín (IE); Guangzhou–Lyon (FR); Shantou–Andalucía (ES); Tianjin–West Midlands (UK). The action proved highly successful, including from the point of view of producing new commercial opportunities for European and Chinese business.

A new programme has been implemented since 2017 as part of the actions under the International Urban Cooperation programme (IUC) to scale up and take forward previous successful cooperation between EU and Chinese regions and cities.

On the occasion of the annual EU-China High Level Regional Policy Dialogue, and in the context of the EU's new International Urban Cooperation programme, five joint declarations are planned for signature in July 2018 between Chinese and European cities: Kunming and Granada (ES); Haikou and Nice (FR); Yantai and Rome (IT); Liuzhou and Barnsley (UK) and Weinan and Reggio Emilia (IT).


Joint Declaration between pilot cities (International Urban Cooperation Programme) PDF

Report on EU-China Regional Policy Cooperation (2006-2016) PDF

Joint Statement on Comprehensively Deepening EU-China Regional Policy Cooperation PDF (2015)

Regional Policy in China and the EU - A comparative perspective PDF ZH (2011)

Memorandum of Understanding on regional policy cooperation with China PDF EN zh

Addendum to the Memorandum of Understanding PDF EN

World Cities Final Report PDF EN


First High Level Seminar, Beijing, 15-16 May 2006

Second High Level Seminar , Brussels, 8 October 2007

Third High Level Seminar, Chongqing, 20 November 2008

Fourth High Level Seminar: EU-China Regional Policy Cooperation, Brussels, 8 October 2009

Fifth EU-China High-level seminar on regional policy PDF zh , Shanghai, 19 October 2010

Sixth EU-China High-level seminar on regional policydoc, Brussels, 13 October 2011

Seventh EU-China high-level seminar on regional policy PDF, Guangzhou, 21 December 2012

  • Joint Conclusions VII EU-China high-level dialogue PDF ZH

Eighth EU-China high-level seminar on regional policy, Brussels, 9 October 2013 PDF

Joint Conclusions VIII EU-China high-level dialogue on regional policy cooperation, Beijing, 21 November 2013 PDF ZH


EU-China Regional Innovation Joint Study PDF

Report on joint study on regional policies in China and EU

A study which compares aspects of regional policy in China with cohesion policy in the European Union - financed by the Commission under its EU-China Policy Dialogues Support Facility - has been carried out in 2008-2010. The study examines the regional policies of the European Union and China to assess their potential to speed the economic growth of regions which are lagging behind. The study is on practical aspects of policy-making and regional development. It concentrates, in particular on: the definition and economic classification of regions; the governance and co-ordination of regional policy; and the role of regional policy in improving competitiveness, sustainable development and urban and rural development. As illustrations, the study report describes examples of best practice in these subject areas in China and the EU.

Less Poverty, More Employment: Helping the European Union to achieve its 2020 targets - A Study of the organisation of the European Union Cohesion Policy with special reference to anti-poverty policy in the People's Republic of China PDF

EU-China Cooperative Research Program on Regional Policy : Research Report of the Chinese Expert Group PDF

Training Programmes

In 2010, the European Commission launched CETREGIO, a Chinese European Training Series on Regional Policy. CETREGIO does not intend to provide European tailor made solutions for the Chinese realities but rather to offer Chinese regional experts a source of reference when setting their own regional development policies. Moreover, the programme aims at strengthening linkages between European and Chinese regions that can be used for the further development of bilateral cooperation. Training consists of two-week information sessions in at least three European Union member states covering lectures and field visits to best practices on selected focus areas. In introductory seminars, European experts have also been able to visit best practices in China.

The information and training sessions have covered a wide range of regional development issues including regional policy legislation; statistical information systems; innovation and clusters; territorial cohesion; urban-rural linkages; and sustainable urban development.

Chinese delegates are mostly senior experts in their respective areas and represent the vast diversity of regional development in China. They all have shown strong commitment with the training activities, facilitating vivid discussions with the European colleagues that have been visited.

2014: Chinese European Training on Regional Policy - EU-China Regional Policy Dialogue - Final Report 2014 PDF

2013: Chinese European Training on Regional Policy - EU-China Regional Policy Dialogue - Final Report 2013 PDF

2012: Training and information sessions on multi-level governance and sustainable urban development PDF

2011: Information session on territorial cohesion and urban-rural linkages PDF

2011: Information session on regional innovation and clusters PDF

2010: Information session on regional disparities, regional policy and legislation and statistical information systems PDF