Brief historical overview
The European Union (EU) was mainly created with the goal of preventing another World War. In 1950 the European Coal and Steel Community was founded. This organization, which paved the way to the establishment of the EU, was set up to link economics with politics in order to guarantee a stable and peaceful Europe.
From the 1970`s onwards the EU has grown. Today it comprises 27 member states making it a very important entity in world affairs.
Like the, EU China has become a very important actor on the international stage. Since more or less 20 years China has been an economic superpower. It was in 1975 that diplomatic relations between the EU and China were established. Until today, despite their differences, the EU and China deepened in their relationship by a common aim of building up global strategies.
EU-China Co operation:
EU-China Co-operation programs broaden EU China relations by supporting Chinaâ€™s transition process and sustaining its economic and social reforms. Even though poverty alleviation is still an important topic in China the EU brings a much more classic approach to development assistance (response to Chinaâ€™s needs) thru non governmental organizations and other donors.
EU-China Trade and economic relationships:
Since 1978 the EU and China have had bilateral agreements also known as â€˜Trade and Co operation agreementâ€™. This covers EU-China trade relations and Co operation programs.
Apart from trade relations and Co operation programs, there have been a number of sectoral agreements between the two. For example the science and technology agreement was concluded in 1994 (then renewed in 2004), maritime transport agreement (concluded in 2002), tourism agreement (concluded in 2002), customs Co operation agreement (concluded in 2004) and the research agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy (concluded in 2004).
New agreements among others such as property rights, competition policy, textiles, enterprise, are being initiated. China still remains the EU â€™s second largest trading partner.
Eurostat figures show that Chinese imports to the EU totaled approximately 191 billion Euros in 2006 representing a year on year increase of 21%. On the other hand, EU exports to China have increased by 22.5%.
A significant step for China in the global economic order was when, with the full support of the EU, it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001. This really affirmed Chinaâ€™s overall importance in world affairs.
Summits take place once a year between the two. The purpose of these summits, are for the political leaders of both parties to strengthen their relationship, exchange opinions and plan for the future.
The first summit took place in London in 1998. The summits cover, among others, issues such as Human Rights, Environment, Telecommunications, Energy trade. Summits are important because they reaffirm EU and China strong links.
Future between the two:
For more than thirty years China and the EU have had strong relations. A lot of ground has been covered on all aspects. Still with the ever changing world (globalization, terrorism etc) new and unpredictable challenges will be faced in the future by both parties.