EU unveils plan to de-risk ties with China

  • Brussels unveiled a plan to inject some steel into economic ties with Beijing on 20 Jun, but faced a fight to convince European Union member countries that controls on investments in and exports to China are a good idea.
  • The bloc’s first economic security strategy is intended to restrict autocratic governments’ access to European technologies that are seen as key to economic security, such as quantum computing and artificial intelligence.
  • The EU commission wants agreement by the end of the year on a list of hi-tech goods in which EU companies’ in certain countries could be screened, in conjunction with member states. China is not named on this front, but it is firmly within the EU’s cross hairs.
  • It wants to tighten existing rules on outside purchases of the EU’s critical companies and infrastructure, ensuring all members implement its foreign direct investment screening tool, recommended in 2020.
  • It also wishes to expand the bloc’s suite of export controls to prevent goods with espionage and military applications from finding their way to hostile governments, or to stop them being used by authorities that engage in human rights violations.
  • But the proposal faces an uphill battle in getting the bloc’s 27 members to grant Brussels more authority over these areas, which are traditionally controlled by their capitals. There is also resistance from some members against what is seen as a tilt towards Washington and the “national securitisation” of economic policy.

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