The European Commission has enthusiastically stopped its efforts to ratify its highly controversial free trade agreement with China just four months after the deal was brokered.
EU Trade Director Valdis Dombrovskis told the yesterday French news agency AFP said the bloc had effectively « suspended » its efforts to get the agreement through parliament.
« We have now, in a sense, stopped the political activities of the European Commission, » said Dombrovskis.
The move takes place just a month before US President Joe Biden’s first official visit to Brussels.
A spokeswoman for Mr Dombrovskis said the Commission had not made a formal decision to suspend the agreement, but stopped promoting policy.
The agreement, which covers investment but not trade in goods, was signed in principle last December ch agreed.
MEPs have repeatedly stated that they will not ratify it because China has treated its Muslim Uighur minority and pressured democracy activists in Hong Kong.
Ratification came after a round of EU sanctions against China and Chinese counter-sanctions against EU institutions and politicians last month, almost impossible.
One of the people affected by the sanctions was German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, chairman of the European Parliament delegation to China this newspaper recently said the deal was « dead as a doornail ».
« The Commission takes note of the reality: the European Parliament is not ready to ratify an agreement with China that has room for improvement and is one such a clearly negative climate is located, « she said on Twitter.
Mr Dombrovskis told AFP that the ratification » really is will depend on how the broader EU-China relationship develops « .
» In the current situation, it is clear that, given the EU sanctions against China and the Chinese countermeasures, including against Members of the European Parliament, the environment is not conducive to ratification of the agreement, « he said.
The Commission says the agreement will guarantee EU investors unprecedented access to China’s energy, transport, telecommunications and health markets, while ensuring China conforms to international standards for forced labor.
The surprising signing at the end of December – exactly at the end of Germany’s six-month term at the helm of the EU – was criticized, however, by some who said the bloc should have waited until Mr Biden took office.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused China this weekend of acting more aggressively abroad and more repressive domestically.
The US also believes China has failed to protect US intellectual property, a key commitment in its Trump-era Phase 1 deal with China.
Ireland supported the deal, and the government designated China recently considered a « critical market » for Irish food exports.
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China is the fourth largest destination for Irish food and beverage exports, reaching nearly EUR 1 billion last year, and the second largest market for dairy and pork.
According to law firm Baker McKenzie, the Chinese are located Investments in Ireland also at record highs, increasing by more than 50 percent in 2019.
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