EU and China step up their cooperation on environment, water and circular economy


From 1 to 3 April 2019, an EU delegation headed by EU Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella is visiting China to continue and deepen EU – China environmental bilateral relations.  Commissioner Vella will co-chair the 7th environmental dialogue and will initiate two new high-level dialogues on Water and Circular Economy. He will also meet several Chinese ministers to discuss shared priorities related to water and circular economy, wildlife and forest protection, the EU-China Ocean Partnership, and the fight against illegal fishing.

Commissioner Vella said: “Both the EU and China are facing similar environmental challenges. Threats to biodiversity, pressures on scarce natural resources, waters and oceans as well as the threat of pollution require strong governance. Together we can better respond to these challenges and we can take the lead globally.”

Circular economy is an important political priority both in the EU and in China as confirmed by the ‘Memorandum of Understanding on Circular Economy Cooperation‘ signed in July 2018. Taking into account the experience gained in the EU with the implementation of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and the EU Plastic Strategy leaders will discuss how to accelerate bilateral collaboration to better respond to common challenges and support a global transition to a resource-efficient and circular economic model in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Biodiversity will also be high on the agenda of the political meetings, looking ahead to the Biodiversity Summit in China next year, where world leaders are expected to agree on a post-2020 plan to stop the rapid decline of the natural world.

The 7th Environmental Policy Dialogue will focus on pollution prevention and control, enhancing environmental governance and promoting green growth, building on years of technical cooperation and policy exchange on these issues.

The first China-EU Water Policy Dialogue is expected to deepen the EU-China cooperation on water, allowing partners to exchange information and experience and provide political steer to the work of the China-Europe Water Platform. The Commission is supporting the work of this platform through a EUR 6 million Partnership Instrument project, addressing issues such as water legislation and policies, integrated water resources management, adaptation to climate change, water disaster mitigation, protection of water ecosystems and cooperation on joint programmes on applied research and business cooperation.

China is also part of a EUR 9 million Commission action to reduce plastic waste and marine litter in East and South East Asia. The action aims to strengthen the cooperation of the EU with  the countries in that region, jointly implementing actions to address sustainable consumption and production of plastic, and to support a transition towards a more circular economy, in line with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan and the EU Plastic Strategy.


China is the world’s second largest economy and one of the EU’s main trading partners. China’s Thirteenth five-year plan makes green development a central goal. For some years, China has been progressively introducing measures to make its economy more circular. Measures are being introduced to address China’s air, water and soil pollution.