Citizens often send messages to the President of the European Parliament (or to the institution’s public portal) expressing their views on current issues and/or requesting action from the Parliament. The Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (AskEP) within the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) looks into these issues and replies to the messages, which may sometimes be identical as part of wider public campaigns.
The President of the European Parliament has recently received a large number of messages on the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). Citizens first began to write to the President on this subject in March 2021. In their messages, citizens called on the EU not to ratify the agreement as a result of human rights abuse in China. In recent resolutions, the European Parliament has indicated that it will carefully scrutinise the agreement, including its provisions on labour rights, while taking into account the human rights situation in China.
Please find below the main points of the reply sent to citizens who took the time to write to the President of the European Parliament on this matter.
Main points made in the reply
On 30 December 2020, the European Commission and China reached an agreement in principle on a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. Nevertheless, the European Parliament must vote in favour of the agreement, following the consent procedure, for it to come into force.
Specifically, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in January 2021, on the crackdown on the democratic opposition in Hong Kong. In its resolution, Parliament states that it will carefully scrutinise the agreement, including its provisions on labour rights. Parliament also reminds the Commission that it will take the human rights situation in China, including in Hong Kong, into account when asked to endorse the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, or future trade deals with China.
The European Parliament also adopted a resolution in December 2020 on forced labour and the situation of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In the resolution, Parliament states that it is of the opinion that the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment must include adequate commitments to respect international conventions combating forced labour. Parliament considers, in particular, that China should therefore ratify the relevant International Labour Organization Conventions.
The European Parliament has started to scrutinise the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. The Committee on International Trade (INTA) and the Sub-committee on Human Rights (DROI) held an initial exchange of views on the agreement in their meetings of 24 and 25 February 2021 respectively (INTA video from start and DROI video from 10.05am).
More broadly, the webpages of the Delegation of the European Union to China might also be of interest.