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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Speech by President Barroso: "Deepening EU China co-operation on energy: Working together to meet global challenges"

EU-China High Level Meeting on Energy

Brussels, 3 May 2012

Vice Premier,


Distinguished Ministers on the Chinese and the European side,

Dear Günther Öettinger

Excellencies, honoured guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is with particular pleasure that I welcome Vice Premier Li to Brussels today. We already had very open and constructive talks today from our bilateral relations to global issues of common interest.

Vice Premier Li-s visit and the recent EU-China Summit in Beijing are testimony to the increasing importance that we both attach to our bilateral relationship, and the strong and fruitful links between the economies and societies of China and Europe.

The European Union and China are two of the global economy's main actors, indeed the EU as the largest single market with a value of 12.6 trillion euros and China as the second largest economy in the world with national income of 5.2 trillion euros, respectively. The European energy market itself is worth around 620 billion euros. Our actions therefore matter for the world as a whole. We are both global stakeholders. Although we have had very different pasts, one thing is clear: we share to a large extent a common future, a future which will be determined by the manner in which we use the resources of our planet.

This is particularly true of energy. Energy is one issue where there is clear global interdependence, where our planet is truly interlinked.

Our common challenge is therefore to ensure the prosperity of our citizens, to enable them to meet their needs and aspirations for a better life, while at the same time ensuring global growth and sustainability.

In this light, it is evident that the EU and China create value for our world by engaging together into a strong energy partnership, which we have been building over the last years.

Before looking more closely at how we are engaging with you on the issue of energy, let me first outline the starting point for the European Union.

With our European 20-20-20 commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, more than double our share of renewable energy in our energy mix, and improve energy efficiency by 20%, all of this by 2020, we have launched a highly ambitious European energy policy. And we are delivering on it!

These actions are cornerstones of our Europe 2020 agenda for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth: Because you simply cannot have sustainable growth without sustainable energy production and use. But unleashing the potential of this new energy revolution is also creating huge job opportunities. And it will enable us to conserve and invest in key natural resources.

The EU is thus leading what some call the third industrial revolution; we are showing not only that our 2020 objectives can and will be met, but can positively benefit our citizens and provide answers to the issue of climate change, and support our drive for long term sustainable growth.

The pursuit of a sustainable energy policy is also a key part of the EU's external relations. For instance, at the recent EU "Sustainable Energy For All" Summit in mid-April here in Brussels, I announced with Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon who came here for that conference an ambitious pledge that we will assist developing countries in providing energy access for 500 million people by 2030, backed up by significant EU support.

This is just one strand of our external energy policy. Another is to deepen our co-operation in energy matters with the world's other main consumers. Here our relationship with China is absolutely critical, and I am sure that its importance will continue to grow.

Our bilateral energy co-operation was launched at the 2005 EU-China Summit.

Within less than 7 years, we have established several political "dialogues". These cover key aspects of energy policy, from clean coal technologies and policies to renewable energies; from energy efficiency measures to improved regulatory frameworks. Our experts and industry meet on regular basis, they join forces in international fora and they build trust and share expertise.

Our co-operation may well be based on a series of "dialogues" but we do much more than just talk. We have set up concrete cooperation facilities: in 2010, I inaugurated the EU-China Clean Energy Centre at Tsinghua University in Beijing, which is unique in its kind. In Shanghai, we run a training project for architects and engineers on high efficiency buildings. And next September, we will inaugurate in Wuhan the first EU-China Master degree in Renewable Energy, which will make sure that our young generation of future leaders has this green technology thinking deeply engrained.

Against this background, today's meeting represents a further milestone: for the first time, we have gathered the most important EU energy decision makers of all the 27 EU Member States, together with the Chinese Ministers in charge of implementing China's ambitious energy policy. I would like to thank all of you for working on a genuine, if I may say so, "energetic" partnership beyond departments and borders.

Our co-operation is not just expanding in terms of the number of participants: We have agreed to extend our partnership to key areas like electricity markets, energy security and urbanization.

A word on urbanization: 690 million Chinese people live in urban areas this is more than half of its whole population and greater than the entire population of the European Union. China is now, we can say "an urban country". While urbanisation is an obvious indicator of economic growth, its rapid pace poses great challenges.

The objective of our Urbanisation Partnership is to provide an open political platform for EU and Chinese stakeholders to cooperate and share experiences on how to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of urbanization. The endorsement and support granted at central Government level in China will empower China’s national bodies, cities, regions and business representatives to engage with partners in the EU.

China has huge investment requirements in local infrastructure and social services. But above all China is developing a long-term vision for its new and cities. The European model of dense cities, which is less demanding in terms of use of natural resources, well organised to support economic activity and quality of life, has been widely recognised by Chinese experts as preferable to the sprawling conurbations found in other parts of the world. We can share with our Chinese counterparts the rationale for our city development, the technological and governance infrastructures that allow them to function and also our own experiences of our process of urbanisation.

As regards energy security, our objective is to jointly engage as responsible world energy players so as to make the best energy choices, the most sustainable investments, in order to cater for stability of the world markets and achieve sustainable growth. The choices we make today have a global impact and will be felt I am sure for generations to come. China and the EU therefore share a global responsibility.

Finally, we are today expanding our cooperation to electricity market regulation. The EU is a unique place in that it has taken the fragmented markets of its member States and created an internal electricity market of more than 500 million citizens, which is one of the foundations of our own growth and prosperity. China is interested in opening its electricity market and it is with great enthusiasm that we support this important process through the exchange of expertise and technical support. Together, we will discuss a range of market related issues, such as pricing, access to the market and the technical standards for the sustainable integration of renewable energy to the grids.

Vice Premier Li,

When entering a new commitment, it is important to understand and respect not just the individual starting point of each partner, but also to have a shared understanding of what we can each bring to our co-operation and of the results we expect. As I have already indicated, the European Union has amassed great experience in developing clean and sustainable energy sources, improving energy demand management including connecting remote areas to the grids in an efficient and modern way. Deepening our co-operation in these fields will be of benefit to us all.

We also expect our co-operation to lead to a broader strengthening of our strategic relationship, through for example training the young generation and cooperating in ensuring safety in the nuclear energy field, building on the recent Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.

We are looking forward to have China as a partner who engages internationally, a China that participates in framing of our international energy policies and in energy markets. To be effective, this will also require guaranteeing "a level playing field", including open and non-discriminatory access to our respective markets. Negotiating a bilateral investment agreement and ensuring access to procurement markets are important elements in our trade relations that will also enhance our cooperation in the energy markets in the long term.

I trust our Chinese partners and friends share this point. After today's very open and constructive talks, I am confident that Vice Premier Li and I will have many more occasions to take stock of the progress which we will no doubt achieve together in "energising" our partnership: Progress which will benefit I am sure China, the European Union and I believe also the global community as a whole.

I thank you very much for your kind attention.

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