The European Commission will convene in Brussels today for discussions on a new industrial policy ahead of the next EU Summit on March 21.
The 28 commissioners will focus their talks on policies designed to protect key technology sectors from China’s growing influence in Europe. Sino-EU relations have recently grown frustrating for Brussels—indeed, Chinese takeovers of European companies, US pressure to shun China over espionage fears and accusations that Beijing has delayed open market reforms are all increasing.
One recently circulated policy proposal is the revival of the International Procurement Instrument, which requires foreign countries to open their public procurement markets in return for access to Europe. Under this proposal, the EU would have more leverage when negotiating its access to foreign markets, and it would have the ability to open investigations into discrimination against EU parties by non-members.
With the March 29 Brexit deadline a looming priority, the EC is unlikely to agree on a new industrial policy strategy today. But, the fact that European policymakers are discussing ways to protect European companies could signal future barriers for China. If today’s US-EU trade negotiations can produce cooperation on industrial policy and tariffs, it could mark a shift toward warmer US-EU trade relations at China’s expense.
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