Chinese Sanctions Jeopardize Ratification of EU-China Investment Deal

Arent Fox

Arent Fox

Last week, members of the European Parliament debated newly imposed Chinese sanctions as tensions between the two powers continue to escalate. The latest move came after Beijing implemented sanctions targeting European elected officials, ambassadors, and academics on March 22 in retaliation for travel bans and asset freezes imposed by the EU against several Chinese officials over their roles in the mistreatment of the Uyghur minority.

On the minds of many Parliamentarians was a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI), which was agreed to between the European Commission and Beijing in December 2020 and which gives both parties unprecedented access to each other’s markets. In the debates, EU officials took to the floor of the Parliament to denounce the sanctions and warn that the EU-China investment deal was “on ice.”

China’s imposition of sanctions emboldened some voices in Parliament who originally voted against the CAI. The mood was captured by Emmanuel Maurel, a left-wing French MEP, who declared in a statement “If we want to show once and for all that the EU is not just a supermarket but rather has principles… we have to come up with some tangible action, and that means we need to reject the investment agreement.”

The investment arrangement is now on shaky ground. Before officially entering into force, the Treaty must be ratified by the European Council, a process that has begun but is not expected to finalize until 2022. As tensions rise, the fate of the Agreement is increasingly uncertain.

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