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Service for Foreign Policy Instruments
News article16 July 2018Service for Foreign Policy Instruments

EU invests in partnership with China to boost bilateral cooperation in key policy areas

The European Commission has approved eight new projects in China as part of the Annual Action Programme (AAP) 2018 of the EU's Partnership Instrument adopted on 4 July 2018.

The projects totalling more than € 35 million will help achieving the EU's foreign policy objectives across a number of key policy areas, including cooperation on migration, Chinese legal economic reform, EU-China trade relations, waste management and ocean governance, EU access to a digitalised Chinese economy as well as the protection of women's and workers' rights.

EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Support Project – Phase II

Building upon the results of the first phase of the EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Support Project, the Partnership Instrument will facilitate and strengthen the EU-China dialogue on migration and mobility with additional € 2 million. Europe is the second most popular destination for Chinese migrants. In line with the EU Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) and consistent with the EU Strategy on China, this action will increase awareness on legal and irregular migration and better manage migration flows between the EU and China.

Understanding Chinese Legal Economic Reform 2020 (EUCLERA)

By means of an online database, the Partnership Instrument will provide practical support and analysis to help EU policymakers, Member States and businesses to better understand policy and regulatory developments in China, and adapt their strategies and advocacy as well as, whenever possible, positively influence the Chinese reform process.

Common food safety standards for a level-playing field in EU-China trade relations

Unjustified restrictions in trade resulting from sanitary and phytosanitary issues are one of the most common non-tariff barriers to trade in the food sector. After the successful EU-China cooperation on food safety regulation project, the Partnership Instrument will continue holding regulatory dialogues on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and the exchange of international best practices between the EU and China. This includes seminars and expert-level visits bringing together experts from the scientific community with representatives from local and national governments from EU and China as well as EU institutions. The action also aims to help EU businesses navigate regulatory requirements and procedures of the Chinese food market.

EU-China cooperation to stop plastic waste and marine litter

China produces a quarter of the world’s plastic and its rivers top the global ranking of rivers fuelling plastic waste in the oceans. At the same time, significant measures have been taken by China to protect biodiversity, the sustainability of oceans and our food chain, including through plastic bans and monitoring marine litter trends. EU-China joint efforts are essential to move forward to a sustainable level of consumption and production of plastic. In the context of the EU Plastics Strategy the Partnership Instrument will allow for in-depth exchanges of best practices on how to prevent marine litter and increase recycling rates. In collaboration with the EU SME Centre in China, legislative and technical assistance on sustainable design for plastic-containing products will be provided particularly to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The action will also support the implementation of the so-called Deposit Return Scheme (DRS) as an effective tool to combat littering.

The EU and China lead the way to protect our oceans

Acidification, marine litter and declining biodiversity put our oceans under pressure. Scientific knowledge of oceans is the cornerstone of a sustainable governance of our oceans. After a successful EU-China Blue Year (2017), the Partnership Instrument supports a closer cooperation between the EU and China on how to better exchange knowledge and data about our oceans. Civil society, scientists and public authorities will explore together how to increase access to standardised data to monitor the impacts of climate change on the oceans. The project will increase cooperation between the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) and relevant Chinese data centres. Improved ocean governance will also provide equal market access to European maritime companies doing business offshore in China.

A stronger Chinese economy brings new opportunities for EU companies in the digital sector

Europe needs a robust Chinese economy as much as China needs a strong Europe. China launched the Made in China 2025 initiative to modernise its industry in ten priority sectors with a crosscutting digital thread. Under the Partnership Instrument, the EU will make sure its businesses take full advantage of new opportunities created by this initiative in four out of the ten sectors, namely new energy vehicles, semiconductors, robotics and medical devices. A running updated data base of relevant public measures and legislation at all Chinese government levels in the identified sectors will be set up. The € 4 million project will also work to the protection of intellectual property rights for EU companies in China.

Robust EU-China cooperation for healthy workers

The administrative fragmentation of its social security system is one of the many issues China faces as regards its socio-economic model. Likewise, demographic change, migration and evolving employment patterns are significant challenges to the sustainability of the EU’s social and economic landscape. In line with the EU-China 2020 Strategic Agenda for Cooperation, the EU and China will work together to transform China’s economic and social model into a more sustainable and inclusive one. The Partnership Instrument will promote a fair and equal competition based on international social standards. In addition to supporting bilateral dialogues and joint activities, the € 5 million project, together with the help of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), will also provide on-the-spot technical assistance to China on improving the inclusiveness of the social protection system.

The EU cares, protects and empowers women at work in China

A stronger role for women in leadership has proven to contribute to better performing businesses and, ultimately, to economic growth. With the support of UN Women, the Partnership Instrument will provide tailored guidance for the implementation of the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) among business stakeholders and policy-makers in China to support a more gender-responsive 5+Chinese business environment. In this context, the private sector, as a major provider of employment opportunities for women, will be a key sector to engage with. As part of a global initiative, the project will create networking opportunities for women, encourage their skills development and invite China to align gender-equality approaches in the private sector.


The EU's Partnership Instrument helps to enhance the EU's strategic political partnerships by building relationships with key partners and supporting policy priorities, in line with the EU Global Strategy. The full AAP 2018 is available here.

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Publication date
16 July 2018
Service for Foreign Policy Instruments