The year of Europe on hold amid a pandemic: perspectives on European integration and China-Europe cooperation






The outbreak of COVID-19 has heavily impacted agendas in Brussels and Beijing. Worldwide, confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 2 million, while Europe has witnessed high fatalities.

On April 23, the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) held a webinar titled “The year of Europe on amid a pandemic: Perspectives on European integration and China-Europe cooperation.”This online seminar brought together scholars and experts from both Europe and China to discuss how China and Europe could cooperate to defeat the pandemic.



Wang Huiyao, CCG president, said that as the three largest economies in the world, the EU, China and the United States should set aside differences and play a leading role in strengthening global coordination and global governance.

Justin Vaisse, director-general of the Paris Peace Forum, highlighted the interdependence among all countries in response to the pandemic. He called for vertical multilateralism, which requires efforts and cooperation from states, foundations, the private sector, NGOs, citizens, and other actors to address the challenges facing all human beings.

Cui Hongjian, senior research fellow and director of the Department for European Studies at China Institute of International Studies and CCG nonresident senior fellow, said that there are many differences between China and the EU, but mutual trust should be maintained. Rather than complain, mutual respect is a top priority for cooperation in this period.

Jean-Christophe Bas,chief executive officer and executive board chairman of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (DOC), said that the pandemic crisis reflects the weaknesses of the existing international architecture. However, it also provides a window of opportunity to create a real conversation on what we should do and move from words to action and concrete commitments, which are what we need today.

Paolo Magri, executive vice president and director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)said that Europe and China should continue to build upon current cooperation to reinforce the fragile architecture of multilateral governance. Building on good cooperation experience between Europe and China in the field of climate, he expressed hopes that the two sides could expand collaborations on other areas.

Zha Daojiong, professor of International Political Economy at the Peking University and CCG expert advisor, said that the EU and China should take responsibility and forge leadership to encourage vaccine companies to do patent pooling, cutting down the cost of production, and open procurement access for less-developed countries such as African countries and Latin American countries.

Alistair Michie, secretary-general of the British East Asia Council (BEAC) and executive chairman of the UK-China Business Leaders Confederation (UKCBLC), said that whatever happens going forward, there is the most pressing need for unified global leadership and that there is still time for that to emerge. The prospect for humanity is grim if nations accelerate the trend of blaming and insulting each other.

Francoise Nicolas,senior research fellow and director of the Center for Asian Studies at the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI), said that there has been a divide in the EU during the current crisis. She quoted Jean Monet’s point that “Europe will be forged in crisis,” and said that although there is no solution which everybody agrees on, the EU will find a path in the battle against the pandemic.

Sara Marchetta, states’ representative of the European Union Chamber of Commerce (EUCCC) in China, said that sentiment of European companies in China remains relatively positive, so there is no expectation of a mass outflow of investment. However, expectations of weaker export demand may affect the business rebound of EUCCC members in China.

Min Hao, founder, chairman, and CEO of the Nanjing Easthouse Electric Ltd and CCG senior council member, said that globalization is always needed to reduce operating costs and obtain better products.

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