Asia Europe Journal

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 199–212 | Cite as

The EU’s trade strategy towards China: lessons for an effective turn

  • Camille M. BrugierEmail author
Original Paper


The European Union (EU)’s trade strategy has changed since 2015 with the re-introduction of human rights and the EU’s refusal to grant China Market Economy Status. The questions under investigation here are what were the drivers of EU-China trade before the strategic turn and what consequences could the new EU strategy bring about in the relationship. The paper will draw from 16 interviews with think tanks and policy makers carried out in Beijing and Brussels in 2015 to uncover the Chinese perceptions of the EU and its diplomats as well as the preferences that have so far pushed China to make the EU one of its first trade partners. This work concludes that in order for the EU-China trade relationship to keep functioning, the new EU strategy towards China needs to keep human rights as an issue separated from trade, needs to boost knowledge and legislation transfers on sensitive issues like food safety and environmental management and finally needs to keep the “European way” of dealing with trade frictions and disputes with China.


European Union World Trade Organization Solar Panel Strategic Partnership Trade Dispute 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Professor T. Christiansen and R. Maher and the RSCAS for organizing the conference “China’s rise and the EU’s response” which led to this special issue. I am particularly grateful for the feedback and advice given by R. Maher and M. Lestra on the initial drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political and SciencesEuropean University Institute, Badia FiesolanaSan Domenico di Fiesole (FI)Italy

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