EU suspends efforts to ratify investment deal with China amid ongoing sanctions row, Commission VP tells AFP

The EU has suspended its efforts to ratify a huge investment deal with China due to a row and a sanctions battle over Beijing’s alleged human rights violations, the deputy chief of the bloc’s executive branch has told AFP.

“We have for the moment […] suspended some political awareness efforts on the side of the Commission,” vice president of the EU Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, said in an interview with the outlet on Tuesday.

Dombrovskis said the situation created by the EU and China’s tit-for-tat sanctions is “not conducive to the ratification” of the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI).

After six years of negotiations, the EU and Beijing agreed the CAI in principle at the end of last year, but it still required the ratification of the European Parliament.

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The deal would have seen increased legal certainty and greater market access in China for companies from the EU’s 27 member states.

The pause in the journey towards ratification follows months of uncertainty for the agreement, after the EU criticized China over its alleged human rights violations against Uighur Muslims.

In March, Brussels hit Beijing with its first sanctions against China in 30 years, over claims that members of the ethnic minority were being kept in concentration camps and subjected to forced labor in China’s northwest Xinjiang region.

The Chinese government has consistently denied the claims, and immediately responded to the sanctions with its own, imposed against four EU entities and 10 individuals – including members of the European Parliament.

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