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Treaty at top of EU agenda

By Su Qiang and Chen Yingqun | China Daily Europe | Updated: 2016-04-10 14:15

China's transformation can be a win for both sides, official says

Closing in on a bilateral investment treaty with China is at the top of the agenda for the EU this year, according to the chairman of the European Parliament delegation for relations with China.

Negotiators for both sides said they reached clear conclusions on the ambitions and scope of the agreement after a ninth round of talks in Beijing this year. The first round was in November 2013.

Treaty at top of EU agenda

Jo Leinen (second from right), chairman of the European Parliament delegation for relations with China and his wife (second from left); Alojz Peterle (left), a member of the parliament; and Frank Schwalba-Hoth, co-founder of German Green Party, meet with China Daily senior edtiors at the newspaper's headquarters in Beijing on March 30. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

Beyond the treaty, China and the European Union "have a large portfolio (of joint tasks) working toward climate protection, energy transition, and to fight global terrorism", Jo Leinen says in an exclusive interview in Beijing. He also attened the World Green Design Forum in Tianjin.

China's economic transformation can create a win-win situation for both sides, he says, adding that once the treaty is signed talks can begin on a free trade agreement.

He says the so-called Juncker Plan, a 315 billion euro ($358 billion) investment plan to stimulate the European economy, will boost infrastructure and technology, making it easier for countries like China to invest.

He also welcomed China's efforts to restructure industries with overcapacity, such as steel and cement, especially in the face of recent protests by European steel workers.

"It's good that the Chinese government is restructuring and giving new jobs to people who have been working in many of those companies. This is finding a new balance."

He adds that the protests have not solely been aimed at China, but also at other industries and countries. Globally, there is an overcapacity in steel, and the European industry may also need to restructure, he suggests.

On another major talking point in Europe, the United Kingdom's potential exit from the EU, he says such a move would be a mistake.

"This is the 21st century. Britain is no longer an empire but a little island in the Atlantic. Leaving the EU would leave Britain weaker. It would lose influence on the continent and worldwide."

He adds that the EU should look to integrate more rather than disconnect.

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