The United States asked the European Union to be more ambitious in curbing China’s technological development, while the union wanted the United States to make faster progress on common standards for clean technology sectors. Although the face-to-face discussions revolve around China, the EU has been cautious about highlighting the country in its official conclusions, as views on China within Europe are quite divergent.
Hungary, for example, will certainly maintain its relations with the Asian economy, while the Netherlands or France are more critical of China.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo described the trade meeting as fruitful, as several specific plans were agreed upon, such as establishing common international standards for heavy-duty electric vehicle charging stations and developing international rules for generative AI systems. While the official statements do not specifically mention China by name, the face-to-face talks acknowledged the challenges posed by Beijing’s rise, including overcapacity, an older generation and coercive economic practices.
Europe’s views on China have changed – especially after the Russian invasion of Ukraine – and are increasingly approaching the US position. However, the EU has traditionally avoided pointing the finger directly at China, preferring a more nuanced approach. While the US has taken a strong stance by banning Huawei technology, the EU has proposed a more flexible 5G toolkit focused on cutting out high-risk manufacturers. Some EU countries, such as Germany, still find it difficult to remove Huawei products from their systems.
The EU’s approach of not naming China specifically has had mixed results, with fears it will take a hard line like the US on economic relations. The EU is trying to create a balance by emphasizing general principles and comprehensive thinking on this issue.
The EU recognizes the need for general rules on high-risk suppliers that are not limited to China, as the situation may change in the future. The focus is on ensuring that Europe remains competitive and does not fall behind on critical issues, while avoiding unnecessary conflict.
Cover image: Getty Images.