International Agreements in Progress - EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment: Levelling the playing field with China

15-03-2021

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play. The CAI negotiations aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties (BITs) China and EU Member States had concluded prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 when the EU gained competence for most investment issues. The CAI was intended to go far beyond traditional investment protection, also covering market access, investment-related sustainable development, and level playing field issues, such as transparency of subsidies, and rules on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and forced technology transfer. On 30 December 2020, negotiators reached an agreement in principle which is now undergoing legal scrubbing and will subsequently be translated into all official EU languages – which may take up to one year – before it will be formally submitted to the Council for approval and to the European Parliament for consent. Second edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. The previous editon was from September 2020.

Lack of reciprocity in access to the Chinese market and the absence of a level playing field for EU investors in China have posed major challenges for EU-China investment relations in recent years, with the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on investment (CAI) being considered by the EU a key instrument to remedy this state of play. The CAI negotiations aimed at establishing a uniform legal framework for EU-China investment ties by replacing the 25 outdated bilateral investment treaties (BITs) China and EU Member States had concluded prior to the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in 2009 when the EU gained competence for most investment issues. The CAI was intended to go far beyond traditional investment protection, also covering market access, investment-related sustainable development, and level playing field issues, such as transparency of subsidies, and rules on state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and forced technology transfer. On 30 December 2020, negotiators reached an agreement in principle which is now undergoing legal scrubbing and will subsequently be translated into all official EU languages – which may take up to one year – before it will be formally submitted to the Council for approval and to the European Parliament for consent. Second edition. The 'International Agreements in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the process, from initial discussions through to ratification. The previous editon was from September 2020.