EU civil war: Brussels splits erupt as bloc sucks up to China – furious MEPs hit out
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Meanwhile a Green Party MEP suggested the agreement risked driving a wedge between Europe and the United States. The landmark Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, struck last Wednesday, is intended to allow European firms to compete in the Chinese market without falling foul of protectionist practices.
However, critics are concerned by what they see as “weak language” on labour rights, even though China is supposed to make “continued and sustained efforts” to ratify two International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed hard to get the deal over the line last week – and Raphael Glucksmann, an MEP and member of the French Socialist Party, suggested she had the interests of her own country, rather than Europe as a whole, at heart.
He said: “Many words to say that our principles have been sacrificed for the interests of Volkswagen, Siemens and other large groups.
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No deal with China’s endless Uighur slavery
“We will therefore wage the battle in the European Parliament that you have not even thought of fighting.
“No deal with China’s endless Uighur slavery.”
He later added: “For one year now, the story we were told was that it was absolutely urgent to relocate strategic industries and to be less dependent on China.
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“And the first step we take as Europeans is to sign this investment agreement.”
Mr Glucksmann also suggested the European Commission, led by President Ursula von der Leyen, had underestimated “how deep the mistrust of Chinese authorities is in the Parliament”.
Reinhard Butikofer, a former Green Party leader and current MEP, said the agreement was a “strategic mistake”.
He tweeted: “Should we really help Xi Jinping, showing Joe Biden the middle finger?
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“We’ve allowed China to drive a huge wedge between the US and Europe.
“We #Greens are not the #China hawks, we’re the realists.
“In a world where geo-economics follows geo-politics, there are real costs of not standing up for your values to a systemic rival.”
Bernd Lange, a social democrat and the chairman of the Parliament’s trade committee, said MEPs would insist on an “implementation plan with dates and milestones.”
However, he has warned the agreement does not contain a mechanism to enable to bloc to impose sanctions if China did not stick to its promises.
He added the deal also lacked a mechanism to impose sanctions if China didn’t abide by its promises.
Iuliu Winkler, another vice chair of the trade committee, from the European People’s Party, insisted: “The deal contains some of the most ambitious provisions China has ever agreed to, particularly on market access and level playing field.
“The real issue on the table is that of the ILO core conventions.”
Mr Winkler said EU negotiators had “secured more than any other international actor” on sustainable development.
Mrs Merkel is widely seen as the driving force behind the agreement.
In September she said: “I believe that it is right and important to strive for good strategic relations with China.”
Incoming US President Joe Biden’s transition team has already voiced misgivings about the deal.
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