EU chief: De-risk, not decouple from China

EU President Ursula von der Leyen wants to have a level playing field in trade with China

The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has clarified that Europe is not forming an anti-China front with the United States after her talks with President Joe Biden in Washington last week.

Allaying fears by some European Union members that did not want to be dragged into a US-led confrontation with Beijing, Von der Leyen said the bloc was merely seeking a level playing field with China.

“For the European Union it is important to de-risk — but not to ‘decouple’ — from China,” she told Agence France-Presse 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.”

Meanwhile, the talks in Washington allowed the EU and the US to head off a trans-Atlantic trade dispute triggered by US green subsidy plans.

The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act will plough huge sums into helping US companies make the transition to “made in America” green technologies.

But EU businesses fear they will lose market share, jobs, sites and even whole companies if Brussels fails to match the US subsidy spending spree.

The most concrete measure from the trip was a US offer of talks on exempting EU-produced rare minerals in, for example, car batteries to be exempt from US “buy American” rules.


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