A new investment agreement with China could help create opportunities for European companies and unlock billions of euros' worth of investment in Europe. On 8 October MEPs will discuss the negotiations for this new agreement. We talked to Helmut Scholz, a German member of the GUE NGL group who wrote the resolution, and Crescenzio Rivellini, an Italian member of the EPP group, about the benefits and challenges of this new agreement.
What is the advantage of having an investment agreement at EU level rather than at a national level? Wouldn't a bilateral agreement help member states to better defend their companies and consumers?
A level playing field will be created for investors from all EU member states, while currently some of the existing agreements are less favourable than others. This will also ease the flow of much needed investments from China into the EU, as Chinese investors won't have to deal with a mosaic of regulations in Europe any longer.
In bilateral negotiations China will always be stronger. It is true that some countries had their advantages; however now it's clear that it was only in the short term. Today it is not favourable anymore. Bilateral agreements create a hidden internal competition that can only damage Europe.
Is the current situation balanced for EU companies that want to invest in China? How would this agreement improve the situation?
If we look at the current situation we will find that companies from some EU member states are much more integrated and successful in the Chinese market than others. German and British companies who made their investment decisions twenty years ago are doing a lot better today than their competitors from other member states. The new agreement might make it easier for these companies to catch up. However, we also have to make sure that any increased investment activity is not done to the detriment of climate and environment or of working conditions.
Today intellectual property rights are denied for European companies that are willing to invest in China. If we speak with one voice, then this will be rediscussed. This agreement is a step forward in the right direction.