The US ‘pivot’ towards Asia has generated debate in Europe about whether the EU should upgrade its presence in the region. Yet, as this alert shows, the EU and its member states already began their own, largely undetected, rebalancing towards Asia roughly a decade ago. Does the EU now have the possibility of becoming – even inadvertently – an Asian (minor) power?
Brussels - Beijing: changing the game?
Report - No14 - 07 March 2013
Axel Berkofsky, Rebecca Fabrizi, Magnus Gislev, François Godement, Jonathan Holslag, Bernice Lee, Mattias Lentz, Raul de Luzenberger, Miguel Otero-Iglesias, Felipe Palacios Sureda, Jonas Parello-Plasner, Antonio Parenti, Frans-Paul van der Putten, Michael Reiterer
edited by Nicola Casarini
The EUISS is pleased to present the final report prepared in the framework of the research project ‘Developing a comprehensive EU strategy towards China’, including the revised papers and commentaries that were presented at the expert meeting organised by the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris on 11-12 October 2012. The aim of this project was to examine and assess EU policy towards China in the following fields: trade, investment, the euro and global economic governance, environment and resources, defence and security, politics, and the regional context.
The report concludes that China represents a great opportunity but also a challenge for the EU. China is poised to become the EU’s most important commercial partner, while simultaneously being a serious challenger in trade and a competitor for resources. China also continues to be viewed with suspicion across Europe due to the non-democratic nature of the Chinese regime, raising questions as to what use the new leaders will make of their country’s increased capabilities. Yet, it is precisely this authoritarian Communist China, informed by values and principles quite different from those of the EU and its member states, that has come to support the EU’s integration process – including key initiatives such as the European common currency.
There seems thus to be a dual and sometimes overlapping image of China across Europe: that of a rising power challenging the Old Continent’s values and standards of living; and that of an enormous opportunity for European companies and EU global aspirations. Given this situation, devising the right approach towards Beijing is possibly one of the greatest tasks currently facing the EU. In this vein, the contributions in this report offer a number of suggestions that could assist EU policymakers in developing a more coherent and strategic approach towards China.