EU chief wants ‘level playing field’ with China

EU chief wants ‘level playing field’ with China

EU chief wants ‘level playing field’ with China

The head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on March 13 she wants to avoid economic dependence on Beijing, but not fully “decouple” the EU’s economy from China.

Explaining the stance she took last week when she visited U.S President Joe Biden, Brussels’ top official said the European Union was merely seeking a level playing field.

The pair’s joint statement was a small step in resolving differences over trans-Atlantic trade, but came as Washington is mobilizing allies to form an anti-China front.

EU member states differ over how to approach the stand-off, with some more wary than others about being dragged into a US-led confrontation with Beijing.

Some officials in Brussels privately expressed annoyance that von der Leyen might have inked a statement, even a simple promise of more talks, without consulting EU capitals.

One said that for a subject involving the EU’s geopolitical positioning, von der Leyen should have had “a mandate” from the member states.

But von der Leyen stressed that Europe is just trying to ensure it minimizes its economic dependency on China rather than picking sides in a fight.

“For the European Union it is important to de-risk, but not to ‘decouple,’ from China,” she told AFP during an interview organized by the European Newsroom project.

“De-risk means we do not want dependencies, like we’ve experienced with Russia on fossil fuels. We do not want dependency for example on critical raw materials. Therefore, we are diversifying away and we are strengthening our supply chains with like-minded partners,” she said.

“What we want is a level playing field. So, fair access for our companies to the Chinese market, transparency about subsidies, very clear commitment to respect intellectual property.”