EU leaders to coordinate positions on Thursday ahead of China summit

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union leaders will coordinate their positions on Thursday evening on a number of issues they intend to raise with China at an April 9 summit, including tight cooperation on WTO reform and cyber-security concerns, a senior EU official said.

FILE PHOTO: An attendant walks past EU and China flags ahead of the EU-China High-level Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

While there will be no written conclusions of the discussion, the leaders of the 28-nation bloc will also discuss how Europe should position itself in the trade conflict between the United States and China, the official said.

“We are ready to offer China very comprehensive cooperation in many areas,” the official, who is involved in the preparation of the EU leaders’ meeting, said.

He said EU leaders were ready to conclude in 2020 an “ambitious” EU-China investment agreement and that leaders of EU institutions would directly engage in the talks, to speed up the process which has so far been slow.

By mid-year, the EU would like to agree with China on a list of access barriers to priority markets so they can be eliminated and ensure that companies on both sides are not discriminated against.

The official said the EU was also ready to conclude as soon as possible an EU-China agreement on the protection of geographical indications and to work closely with Beijing to deeply reform the World Trade Organisation.

He said the reforms should include new rules on industrial subsidies, on eliminating forced technological transfers and getting to work the WTO appellate body, now paralyzed by the lack of appointed judges.

“We also want to work with China within the G20 framework to tackle the problem of over-capacity in the steel and aluminum sectors and also to prevent the problem of over-capacity in other sectors like in high tech,” the official said.

“We also want to work with China on new, transparent rules for export credit. We are ready to promote, together with China, connectivity between Europe and Asia, but in a way that ensures fiscal, financial and environmental sustainability,” he said.

The EU will also want to discuss with China its concerns linked to cyber security, including cyber theft of intellectual property, the official said.

“I think this discussion will also give a chance for a collective reflection on how the EU should position itself vis-a-vis China and the U.S.,” he added.

Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Catherine Evans