Opinion & Analysis

Trust and trade-offs: How to manage Europe’s green technology dependence on China


  • “De-risking” is the guiding motif of the EU’s new approach to China, particularly in green technologies where Chinese companies are striving for full dominance.
  • For Europe, these same industries are supposed to generate future prosperity, enable the green transition, and enhance security through greater energy independence.
  • As economic growth, climate goals, and national security cannot all be maximally achieved together in these sectors, European policymakers need to weigh these up and decide which to prioritise, when, and how.
  • Instead of individually using incentives and trade tools ad hoc, at random, and in insufficient doses, member states should revolutionise their approach with: a real push in political leadership, enhanced coordination at the EU level, and clear prioritisation backed up by credible arguments.
  • Policymakers need to define politically where the risks are greatest and what constitutes a tolerable dependency, actively seek partners in the world to preserve competition, and communicate clearly about the necessary trade-offs.
  • A key question for Europeans to ask immediately is whether they trust Chinese companies to form the backbone of Europe’s green transition. The answer will determine the options available to them.

About the Authors

Alexander Lipke is the programme coordinator in the ECFR Asia programme, specialising in international economic matters and Korea.

Janka Oertel is the director of the ECFR Asia programme, focusing on Chinese foreign and economic policy, EU-China relations, and green and digital transitions.

Daniel O’Sullivan is a former intern with the ECFR Asia programme.

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