Reuters has these quotes from a Sep 14 article:

“Europe needs to be a player, not a playing field,” European Council President Charles Michel told reporters following a video summit with Xi.

“We want more fairness. We want a more balanced relationship that also means reciprocity and a level playing field.”

But that's all that was reported in there. What are EU's demands (for fairness) more precisely, as Michel sees them? (I'm hoping he has elaborated on some other occasion, or at least the Council did.)

  • 1
    The level playing field comment would seem to suggest State Aid rules, as these terms are used extensively in the Brexit negotiations.
    – Jontia
    Sep 15, 2020 at 8:38

2 Answers 2


I am interpreting your question to be specifically about trade. There are lots of other areas of disagreement between the E.U. and China.

As far as I can tell, Charles Michel is not sharing his personal opinion, he is just outlining the E.U.'s position, which has been consistent over the last few years.

The E.U.'s key demands are summarized here. The current problems, as they see them are:

  • A lack of transparency;
  • industrial policies and non-tariff measures that discriminate against foreign companies;
  • strong government intervention in the economy, resulting in a dominant position for state-owned firms, unequal access to subsidies and cheap financing, and;
  • poor protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

On top of this, they want to make sure that trade tariffs, and investment rules are determined on the basis of reciprocity, that forced technology transfers are stopped (that's partly what is meant by "non-tariff measures"), and that there are legal protections in place, rather than just promises.

That link provides a lot more detail on status of the joint negotiations. I would summarize it as "very slow progress".


The European Union and China have different goals for following bilateral conversations. The EU is China's number one trading partner and the EU's economy can thrive in Chinese markets. EU demands on fairness is first and foremost to collaborate in a legal and precise way to find solutions to existing problems and to make agreements, for everyone's benefit, even though opinion varies.

  • A great example of EU demands on fairness is their agreement with China on Geographical Indications (GI). Geographical Indications means that there is a protection of goods (wine, drinks...) that are from a geographical location. This protection makes usurpation and imitation deeply isolated which is good for both sides and boldly reveals and respects the real Foundation (Origin) of a product.

  • Secondly, the EU wants China to respect and not violate international law. It is also proclaiming to China to stop all unlawful activities in the South China Sea to not spark unbalance in the region

  • An also an important aspect is that the EU respects Human Rights and positively follows democratic order. The EU doesn't want and will not tolerate Human rights violations in Xinjiang, where Muslim minorities are being brutally executed and tortured, and the execution of journalists who are being detained.

  • The EU imposes China to maintain the rights and democratic activities of Hongkongers, which is being violated by the new national security law, and that it must commit to implementing the Sino-British Joint Declaration and not disregarding it.

  • The EU is also awaiting from China to play a global role in fighting against Climate Change and to limit greenhouse emissions and also wants China to implement the Paris deal.

  • And since the World is in a pandemic, the EU pleads China to help through "global cooperation" on developing and spreading a vaccine around the globe.

More details on Charles remarks:

  • 1
    "Boldly reveals and respects the real Foundation (Origin) of a product." Or, seen from a different perspective, results in suppressing the common names of foods, creating a spurious impression that goods from a certain region are intrinsically and automatically superior to those from nearby regions, and punishing producers who happen to be located as little as 100 kilometres away from the one true home of a particular food. It is pretty funny that that the EU argues with China about discriminating against foreign companies.
    – Obie 2.0
    Sep 15, 2020 at 21:59
  • Imagine if the EU took this principle to its logical conclusion. A Chinese restaurant in Paris would not be permitted to advertise its food as Chinese. After all, it was not created in China. European chauvinism, or a recognition that the position is not very logical and was created as part of pork barrel politics to protect national industries against competition?
    – Obie 2.0
    Sep 15, 2020 at 22:02
  • Obie 2.0, Your first comment was very correct. May I place it into the answer?
    – Gregory
    Sep 16, 2020 at 5:03

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