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European Commission - Press release

Education & culture: EU and China launch people-to-people dialogue

Brussels, 18 April - The European Union and China are taking their co-operation to a new level with the launch of a "people-to-people" dialogue covering education, culture, youth, research and multilingualism. Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Liu Yandong, Chinese State Councillor, today signed a joint declaration in which the EU and China commit to strengthening contacts and exchanges between their peoples in order to deepen understanding and trust.

Commissioner Vassiliou commented: "Today's joint declaration is a very important step forward in our relationship. The people-to-people dialogue will open up our contacts and co-operation on a wide range of issues, bringing real benefits to European and Chinese citizens."

The new EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue represents a 'third pillar' in relations between the two partners, building on two previous cooperation agreements - the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue ('first pillar') and the High-Level Strategic Dialogue ('second pillar'). The people-to-people dialogue will enjoy the same status as the other agreements and will have flexible structure with very low financial implications.

A number of follow-up actions have already been identified. China and the EU will expand the opportunities for mobility in education, and increase the number of exchanges between students and scholars, particularly in higher education. The two sides will work together to improve the mutual recognition of academic qualifications. To promote language-learning, China and the EU will jointly organise a major conference on multilingualism at the end of the year.

The two parties will support numerous activities under the 2012 EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue, a new milestone in EU-China cooperation. Its closing ceremony, which will take place in China towards the end of the year, will include a declaration on future cultural co-operation. Both sides will work together to enhance the circulation of their audiovisual works and artists.

For their youth, the two parties will increase support for exchanges and networking between their respective youth organisations, and strengthen web-based cooperation between the Chinese and EU portals specialised in youth issues.


EU-China cooperation on education, training, culture, research, youth and multilingualism has developed rapidly over the past decade.

More than 2000 Chinese students have benefitted from Erasmus Mundus grants to study in the EU, with 200 EU students going to China.

In addition, around 550 Chinese researchers have received funding for research work abroad through the EU's Marie Curie Actions since 2007, some working on large scale international projects (worth a total of €314 million) and others involved in smaller schemes (worth €3.8 million). More than 60 Chinese universities participate in EU exchanges.

The Chinese government offers support to EU primary and secondary school educators and students who want to learn Chinese through the China-EU Language Exchange Project.

In recent years EU-China Schools of Business, Law and Renewable Energy have been launched with EU funding support. The EU-China International Business School (CEIBS), established in Shanghai in the mid-1990s, has received €33 million and is ranked among the global top 30 by the Financial Times.

For more information:

Policy dialogue with China – education, training, culture, multilingualism and youth

EU-China Year of Intercultural Dialogue

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Twitter: @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58), Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

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