Leaders from the EU and China are set to meet for a rare summit at the end of 2020, with COVID-19, economic recovery and climate change on the agenda. Billed for September, the meeting has been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, but is due to take place in late 2020.

Analysts expect the meeting between the world’s largest single market and the world’s largest producer of global warming emissions will be critical in the climate change fight. An initial virtual meeting on June 22 was offered the first sense of where these talks could go, and the scale of any climate change agreement between the economic superpowers.

End of 2020 – EU CHINA Summit


This summit brings together the world’s largest single market, the EU, and the world’s second-largest economy and largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China.

With the US abandoning any pretence of global leadership on climate, leaders in Beijing and Brussels face added pressure to ensure the meeting delivers for a more equitable and cleaner future. A strong, collaborative outcome of this meeting will send a powerful message globally.

After the recent announcements of the COVID-19 recovery packages the two economies now have a fresh opportunity to discuss the future of their partnership on building back a stronger, fairer and more resilient economy.

In Leipzig the diplomats could decide about a number of critical issues that would shape both the EU’s and China’s global leadership, such as demonstrating real progress on green and resilient recovery integrating both the Paris Agreement and SDGs, to prove their determination on tackling biodiversity loss and to show actions advancing the sustainable finance agenda.

The EU China summit can help build commitment and support for green supply chains, demonstrating what cooperation between two major power blocs can look like in practice and paving the way for strong multilateral outcomes for the UN climate and biodiversity summits.

Green supply chains – sourcing and selling goods and commodities in ways that reduce their environmental footprint – are climbing up political agendas as both the EU and China look to use trade and markets to protect nature and reduce carbon emissions. Both the EU and China are key consumer markets for some of the world’s most unsustainable commodities.

Legislative and regulatory measures to green supply chains were already on the EU and China’s respective domestic agendas prior to coronavirus. The EU is developing a deforestation-free supply chain directive and China has developed its first green supply chain manufacturing criteria. Coronavirus economic recovery plans have increased attention to improving the environmental footprint of production and consumption practices. The links between coronavirus, zoonotic diseases and biodiversity loss have heightened China’s domestic attention to this issue.



The EU has proposed a 750 billion Euro package to recover from the global pandemic. The 2 trillion EUR of investment into the 27 EU countries will guide the economic recovery in line with the European Green Deal.



The ‘Green Deal’ will boost jobs, manufacturing and set-up a decade of low carbon growth. The application of a “do no harm” principle will guide and shape the next steps of the EU’s recovery. The EU still plans to adjust its carbon taxes, which could raise 5-14 billion EUR per year. This could have a significant impact on Chinese exports unless the country accelerates its carbon-cutting plans.

The EU’s regulatory power reaches beyond the borders of the bloc. The scale and rule-setting power of the world’s largest single markets impact regulations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In the long run, the green recovery of the EU will impact major exporters of gas and other fossil fuels as the region moves towards a carbon-neutral future.

The EU is also in the deciding phase to adopt its budget for 2021-2027, which will aim to enhance cohesion across the continent and carry the weight of the Green Deal, with current figures set at 1.1 trillion EUR. An agreement on the updated budget is expected to be reached by December 2020.

The finalisation and adoption of the EU’s recovery plan and of the EU budget will take place under the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Germany is expected to push down the pedal on both the EU Recovery and EU Budget, upholding green ambitions and making relations with China a foreign policy priority.



China is pushing through dozens of new coal plants this year, charting a highly dangerous course that imperils the planet, paradoxically in parallel to its solid wind and solar growth which it risks crowding out. China currently has an estimated 400 GW of excess coal-fired capacity, compared with the amount of capacity needed to ensure stable power supply.

China’s National People’s Congress adopted a stimulus package of at least US$668 billion focused primarily on job creation and economic stabilisation. A considerable portion of the stimulus budget is local government bonds, which are mainly used for potentially polluting and carbon-intensive infrastructure projects. This kind of huge resource could be a driver of solar, wind, battery storage and other green infrastructure.

This new coal plant boom is a highly isolated phenomenon within Asia, and of course globally: POSOCO the Government of India agency that manages grid show that 15 days since India came out of lockdown, its coal power generation is down by 24% whereas its overall power generation is down by 15% (year on year comparison June 1 – June 15, 2020 with 2019) and solar and other renewables are expanding. In Vietnam, 7GW of new wind power is set to replace planned coal power projects after repeated delays (a number of which involve Chinese financiers and construction companies), according to national/local media (see here).


The Pandemic shows the urgency and the necessity of strong cooperation to deal with existential threats such as climate crisis. The EU China Summit is one of the milestones to build ambition necessary to deal with it.

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