Foreign Minister underlines need to maintain pragmatic relations between EU and China

The foreign minister said Europe has a fundamental interest in maintaining pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation with China.

Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, said that cutting trade cooperation between the European Union and China for ideological reasons would only deepen the economic crisis, underlining the need to maintain pragmatic relations.

Whether or not Europe can overcome the current period of serious challenges will mainly depend on whether decision-makers will be capable of “acting on the basis of common sense”, Minister Szijjártó said after meeting OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann in Paris on Monday. If decisions on economic policy remain ideologically driven then the world and Europe will not be able to overcome the challenges, the minister said. “Common sense is needed to put the global economic crisis behind us,” he added. Minister Szijjártó welcomed that the OECD and its secretary general “are one of the few organisations and leaders in the world that aren’t trapped by ideology” but instead pursue “rational and realistic economic policies based on common sense”. He said recovery from the current crisis would depend greatly on whether “the ideological approach aimed at cutting cooperation between the EU and China will be successful”. Europe has a fundamental interest in maintaining pragmatic and mutually beneficial economic cooperation with China, he added.

The minister added that the need to maintain pragmatic economic cooperation with China is also made clear by the example of Hungary. He argued that Hungary was a meeting point for the German auto industry and Chinese electric battery manufacturers and that the EU’s “political decision” requiring all new vehicles sold in the bloc to be electric by 2035 meant that the continent needed enough batteries. Of the ten largest battery manufacturers in the world, 7 are Chinese and 3 South Korean, Minister Szijjártó said. This, he added, made it obvious that if Europe were to cut cooperation with the East, the European auto industry and its electromobility strategy would fail, jeopardising millions of jobs. Hungary in recent years has regularly seen new investment records, Minister Szijjártó said, adding this was critical to protecting jobs. “The reason why we’ve been able to constantly set new investment records is that Hungary is an excellent meeting point for Eastern and Western businesses,” he said.
Meanwhile, Szijjártó said his meeting with Cormann had also touched on the fight against inflation, which, he added, “isn’t helped by Brussels’s sanctions”. They also discussed the potential future expansion of the OECD as well as the organisation’s upcoming report on Hungary, he said. Minister Szijjártó said cooperation between Hungary and the OECD was beneficial and based on mutual respect. The OECD represents the approach which says economic decisions must be based on common sense, “otherwise it will be very difficult to recover from the global economic crisis”, the minister said.