BRUSSELS (AFP) - EU leaders will hold a special summit next month to discuss Europe’s complicated relations with China, an official document showed on Thursday.
The leaders will meet in Berlin on November 16 without China, according to the updated programme of the European Council, which organises summits.
The meeting comes as the EU struggles to unite behind a more assertive stance towards Beijing, with increasing worries over human rights and unfair trade.
The meeting was added a few hours after EU leaders discussed ties with China at a foreign policy summit in Brussels.The 27 leaders underlined “serious concerns” about rights abuses in Hong Kong and against minorities, conclusions from the talks said.
They also urged China to meet its pledges on curbing subsidies to its companies, as well as stressed the need for to “rebalance the economic relationship”.
Germany, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, is especially eager to clinch a long-trailed EU-China investment deal by the end of the year and the Berlin summit could help unite the European position.
China says a deal can be agreed this year, but EU officials insist they will not swallow unfavourable terms simply to conclude the talks.
Brussels wants to reinforce respect for intellectual property, to end obligations to transfer technology and to reduce subsidies for Chinese public enterprises.
The summit will take place a few weeks after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, along with EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, held a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping.