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Successful negotiation of a EU-China investment agreement is likely to be a multi-year-long, protracted process. Given the strategic importance of this agreement, the German government and German industrial associations would be well advised to position themselves proactively and not to leave this process to the EU’s Directorate General for Trade alone.
Currently, the EU’s collective policymaking capacity vis-à-vis China is primarily limited to matters of trade and investment policy. Unilateral initiatives on the part of individual European countries are likely to undermine a consistent common European China policy. Therefore China is likely to exploit intra-European policy differences and competitive positioning in the interest of strengthening its own negotiating leverage.
In light of this propensity for unilateralism, larger European collective interests must not fall victim to the specific interests of individual member countries. European policy-disagreements should be addressed outside the public domain.
Germany’s China policy should prioritize policy areas in which Germany can credibly exercise leadership in a European context such as trade, investment, competition, and intellectual property rights.