Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

China and EU can share experiences

By Fu Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-15 07:41

The European Union's new leadership structure has largely taken shape after prolonged months of bargaining, consultations and elections, and, in November, Jean-Claude Juncker is due to take office as the head of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm.

Juncker announced his dream team on Wednesday, and the ambitious head of the EU's executive, who has visited China eight times, has seemingly reached the same recipe as China has for reinvigorating the European Union economies.

He and his team count on reform.

Juncker said he is determined to streamline the executive arm and improve efficiency to inject new vigor into the bloc's stagnant economies, although detailed policies will not be announced until he takes office in November.

At first glance, his approach looks similar to that of China, whose leaders decided to deepen reform last November, issuing detailed guidelines, goals, and a roadmap, and establishing the leadership structure to oversee and ensure the progress of reform.

If Juncker and his colleagues can deliver on their promises, this process can bring about a lot of convergences of cooperation with China, although both sides still have different fronts on their reform agenda.

To put it simply, Europe's growth is too slow, while China's growth, despite some downturn pressure, has been too fast. Europe perhaps has too much welfare while China doesn't have enough. Europe wastes a lot of time on talk and debate which China needs more of.

If Juncker and his team can address the inefficiencies that plague the EU, it is likely that the EU economy will regain its vigor and its growth rate will accelerate.

Just as the public, both within and outside China, has pinned high hopes on the country's new leaders, the change in Europe has also resulted in hopes of change.

These hopes have not only been prompted by the EU's economic woes but also by other recent happenings. In fact, many observers say Juncker will face a make-or-break period as soon as he enters office.

And recent events have shown that this pessimistic warning has been no exaggeration and there will be no gentle easing in for the EU's new decision-makers as there are some urgent issues to be dealt with. Apart from the chronic economic stagnation and high unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, they must take a fair stance and make a decision on Scotland's membership should it vote for independence, and try and defuse the crisis in Ukraine and improve the EU's relationship with Russia, as well as deal with the worsening geopolitical situation and security challenges in North Africa and West Asia.

All these difficulties, especially the Ukraine crisis and EU-Russia relations, if not handled properly, will further harm the prospects of the EU's economic growth.

It is an urgent task for Juncker and his other colleagues to engage in talks with Russia and Ukraine soon. A prolonged standoff with Russia will damage Juncker's hope of reinvigorating the bloc's growth and job creation.

Similarly, China's new leadership has also been faced with huge geopolitical challenges from Japan, the Philippines, and Vietnam. In response, China's leaders have adopted a tough but flexible approach, which should not damage its own economic development. China has not resorted to economic sanctions measures against these countries in a bid to give them time to rethink their actions, but politically, relations have been frozen at the highest levels for some time.

China and EU are both regional powers and important players on the global stage so they can share their experiences in handling such regional conflicts to achieve peace and common prosperity.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech in the College of Europe in Brussels during his visit this year, he urged both China and the EU to boost dialogue and cooperation to forge a partnership of peace, growth, and reform.

The author is China Daily's chief correspondent in Brussels.

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