Top Italian official: EU is rethinking its relationship with China

The European Union wants a more balanced relationship with China, including reciprocity in areas such as market access and rules on state corporate subsidies, Italian European Affairs Minister Vincenzo Amendola said in a May 11 interview with Bloomberg.

“The EU is reflecting on its relationship with China,” Amendola said. “I think it is a positive move, rather than being all based on exports and trade as it has been in the past”, he said. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who served as president of the European Central Bank, has taken a series of tough decisions on trade and economic issues with China since coming to power in February.

The political consensus reached between the two sides at the end of last year to promote the implementation of the China-EU investment agreement has also stalled following China’s counter-measures against EU institutions and individuals over human rights in Xinjiang in March this year. After the Italian government recently announced a halt to a Chinese takeover of an Italian semiconductor company, the European Commission announced plans last Wednesday to reduce dependence on Chinese and other foreign suppliers by setting rules and restricting companies that receive foreign subsidies from acquiring EU firms or participating in public tenders.

The EU is reviewing its relationship with China to ensure it is reciprocal, from legal standards to competition rules and state support for private companies, Armandoella said in an interview. He added that “unfortunately” that has not always been the case recently.

Armandoella said, “Europe is a global actor and we hope that those who benefit from our rules in the European market will also apply them reciprocally in their own markets.”