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China, EU 'must use ties to beat crisis'
By Xie Chuanjiao and Wang Yu (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-05-20 08:48

TIANJIN: Civil societies in China and Europe must effectively use their influence in jointly combating financial crisis and other global challenges, said participants at forum held here Tuesday.

"The European Union (EU) and China can now play much bigger roles in terms of countering any economic and social crises," said Mario Sepi, president of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), the EU consultative assembly.

Sepi, who is also director of Trade Union Institute for Development Cooperation in Italy, was speaking at the 5th China-EU Roundtable meeting of the EESC and the China Economic and Social Council (CESC), a Chinese research and advisory body on economic and social affairs.

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"There should be more substantial cooperation between China and the EU at the bilateral and multilateral levels to overcome difficulties posed by the current economic crisis. The two sides should particularly help people escape poverty and should fulfill the Millennium Development Goals commitment and other United Nations (UN) obligations," Sepi said at the end of the two-day meet.

The EU and China share many common interests and the two sides should work more closely to promote sustainable development, as well as lasting peace and prosperity, Sepi said.

The EESC regarded the current economic crisis as a "long-term recession" rather than a "great depression", as worldwide production value is stabilizing compared with the circumstances in 2008, he said.

However, Sepi maintained that the economic slowdown will generate lesser tax income, and services, and perhaps more social conflict, in turn demanding that the public sector intervene to come up with solutions to overcome these challenges.

The president also called for stronger cooperation between the civil society in China and the EU to deal with other challenges.

Wang Gang, the chairman of the CESC and the executive vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee, said the major policies adopted by the Chinese government since September 2008, covering pertinent issues, had "already seen positive results" in the first four months of this year.

"The economy as a whole has been producing effective results and is getting better than what we expected," Wang said.

Michael Pulch, deputy head of the European Commission Delegation to China, said China's emergence presents not just challenges but also opportunities.

In seven years, China's total GDP will be equivalent to 40 percent of that of the EU and in about 20 years, its GDP will be equivalent to the union's present GDP, Pulch said.

The China-EU round table is a mechanism agreed by the Chinese and EU leaders for the dialogue about common concerns between the two civil societies.

It has included in-depth discussions about the recycling industry, economic and social rights and the current financial crisis.