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External relations of the EU with key partner countries
EU-China relations are governed by the “EU-China Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”, which was launched in 2003 and provides the framework for the institutionalization of bilateral cooperation on foreign policy and security issues, as well as on environmental protection and global economic governance issues. Within this framework, both parties agreed in 2013 in Beijing on the elaboration of the “EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation”, which was envisaged as a transformation of the above-mentioned Strategic Partnership. This Strategic Agenda defines the guidelines for the medium-term development of bilateral relations on the basis of three pillars: the annual High-Level Strategic Dialogue, the annual High-Level Trade and Economic Dialogue, and the biennial People-to-People Dialogue.
It should be noted that the Chinese side has consistently requested from the EU, since 2003, to be granted Market Economy Status. This issue is still pending, as it is linked to the implementation by China of free market rules.
On 18 July 2016, the Council adopted Conclusions on a new “EU Strategy on China”, covering a five year period. The said Conclusions identify significant opportunities for the further promotion of cooperation between the two parties, and recognize the need for attributing to China a reinforced role in the international system. Moreover, the new Strategy seeks to promote EU's interests, while respecting universal values, and is based on a pragmatic approach of China by the EU, as well as on the consolidation of a positive bilateral partnership agenda.
China and the EU continue to engage in negotiations, launched in October 2013, with the purpose of concluding a Comprehensive Investment Agreement. The objectives of this Agreement are a progressive liberalization of investments and the elimination of restrictions imposed to investors seeking to operate in the domestic market of the other party. China is cautious with regard to issues related to third-countries’ access to its market, while seeking to protect its foreign investments abroad by signing this agreement. The EU, on the other hand, is seeking the conclusion of an agreement that provides both for the mutual protection of investments as well as for reciprocal market access. The main priority for the EU remains the conclusion of the negotiations and the signing of the Comprehensive Investment Agreement, which will pave the way for the launch of negotiations towards the conclusion of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement in the future, when conditions allow.
The two sides have also been conducting negotiations, since 2010, for the conclusion of an “Agreement on the Mutual Recognition and Protection of Geographical Indications” (GIs). In this regard, a number of challenges remain, due to the complexity of the Chinese registration system of geographical indications.
Greece attaches particular importance to the full protection of Greek and European geographical indications, and has managed to include 10 Greek GIs within the list of European GIs that have been in principle recognized by China.
Within the framework of ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), Greece, alongside Singapore, have co-sponsored China's initiative for the establishment of a “Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Center”, based in Beijing. In the framework of this initiative, Greece has been assigned the role of regional coordinator.
The Belt and Road Forum (BRF) took place in Beijing on 15 May 2017 with the participation of the Greek Prime Minister. In the context of this Forum, 76 bilateral and multilateral texts were signed among participating countries, with concrete practical results and initiatives in the political, trade and financial fields, as well as in the spheres of infrastructure and connectivity. In this framework, a three-year cooperation plan was signed between the Greek Ministry of Economy and Development, and the Chinese National Development Reform Commission.
The EU-China Summit took place in Brussels on 2-3 June 2017. In the framework of the Summit, a joint declaration was envisaged, as well as a declaration on the issues of climate change and clean energy. None of these was finalized due to disagreements regarding the granting from the EU of a market economy status to China.