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2024
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Drapeaux de l'UE et de la Chine, texture du mur en béton avec des fissures, arrière-plan grunge, concept de conflit militaire
Patrik ANDERSSON, Frida LINDBERG, (eds.), with , John SEAMAN

National Perspectives on Europe's De-risking from China A report of the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC), June 2024

The concept of “de-risking” has become a significant focus for the European Union (EU) in managing its relations with China since first proposed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in March 2023. However, the interpretation and policy responses to de-risking vary across Europe, reflecting diverse national perspectives.

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This year’s report from the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC), of which Ifri is a co-founding member, examines how 21 EU member states and the United Kingdom view and approach de-risking within their national contexts, including practical steps they have taken towards the enforcement of this much talked-about policy. 

The report highlights the diversity of national approaches to Europe’s de-risking agenda. It showcases countries’ internal debates (or lack thereof); highlights common concerns and risks associated with China; tracks de-risking measures adopted at national level and discusses potential barriers to Europe’s de-risking from China. Instead of a uniform and consistent implementation of EU policy, the situation more closely resembles a game of Broken Telephone with each country following its own interpretation and approach. The report offers a mapping of these national perspectives, grouping the countries into Early Advocates, Endorsers/Followers, Cautious Adopters, and Opponents.

France: Chinese undertones in a broader quest for economic security

In the report, Ifri's John Seaman explains that France is a proponent of “de-risking” both as a way to hedge against a slide towards deeper decoupling from China and as part of a broader approach to bolstering economic security and achieving greater economic sovereignty for the EU. As such, France is considered an "early advocate" of a de-risking approach in that Paris was functionally a proactive supporter of it even before it became a guiding concept for the European Commission. Indeed, China’s growing economic clout and ambitions are a source of concern for the French authorities and French firms alike. However, they are one concern among many as power politics increasingly undermines the pillars of a more liberal economic rules-based order. In practice, at the national and European levels, France has actively pursued the development of offensive industrial policy tools to boost economic competence and resilience, as well as defensive measures to protect critical infrastructure and strategic economic assets and guard against the leakage of key technology and know-how. While such policies are considered necessary, it has also sought to avoid directly antagonising Beijing in the process.

Discover this and all ETNC reports on the network's website: https://etnc.info/

ETNC 2024 - National Perspectives on Europe’s De-risking from China
Keywords
economic security China Europe European Union