The European Commission has temporarily put on hold efforts to ratify the investment agreement with China, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told Agence France-Presse Tuesday.
“We have … for the moment suspended some efforts to raise political awareness on the part of the Commission, because it is clear that in the current situation, with the EU sanctions against China and the Chinese counter-sanctions, including against members of the European Parliament, the environment is not conducive to the ratification of the agreement,” Dombrovskis told the French news agency.
The deal was already on ice. Because of Beijing’s sanctions on European officials and academics, members of the European Parliament were vowing never to ratify it. The European Commission has traditionally been highly defensive of the accord, agreed in principle at the end of last year, but Dombrovskis’ remarks are the clearest sign to date that the executive is now also alive to the rapidly deteriorating political climate over the past four months, and is backing off despite heavy German pressure to get the deal done.
Asked whether the deal would still go ahead, his spokeswoman said that the technical aspects such as legal scrubbing are still going on but, on the subject of political ratification, remarked: “We are not there yet.”
“The agreement needs to be now legally reviewed and translated before it can be presented for adoption and ratification. However, the ratification process of the [investment agreement] cannot be separated from the evolving dynamics of the wider EU-China relationship,” she said.
“In this context, Chinese retaliatory sanctions targeting members of the European Parliament and an entire parliamentary committee are unacceptable and regrettable. The prospects for the [agreement’s] ratification will depend on how the situation evolves,” she added.
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