Today, the Commission held its second High-level Digital Dialogue with China. Co-chaired by Vera Jourova, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, and Vice-Premier of China, Zhang Guoqing, this dialogue hosted in Beijing covered key issues such as platforms and data regulation, Artificial Intelligence, research and innovation, cross-border flow of industrial data, or the safety of products sold online. The Commissioner for Justice and consumer rights, Didier Reynders, also participated in the discussions by video message.
Both parties engaged in a thorough discussion on crucial areas of digital policy and technologies. The Commission provided an update of EU regulatory developments including the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act.
Both sides exchanged views about Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Commission presented developments on the Artificial Intelligence Act and stressed the importance of an ethical use of this technology in full respect of universal human rights, in the light of recent UN reports.
The Commission reiterated its support for global and interoperable Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) standards and urged the Chinese authorities to ensure a fair, reciprocity-based business environment in the digital field.
It also conveyed its concern about the difficulties faced by EU companies in China to make use of their industrial data, as a result of the application of recent legislation. Discussions on this matter will continue at the High-level Economic Dialogue with a view to finding concrete solutions.
The Commission explained its de-risking approach under the European Economic Security Strategy, which consists in mitigating risks to its supply chains, critical infrastructures and technology security.
As regards the safety of products, the Commission and China welcomed the signature of the Action Plan on the safety of products sold online.
The objective of the Action Plan is to further enhance dialogue and cooperation between the European Commission and the General Administration of China Customs (GACC). Both parties have agreed to rapidly exchange information on unsafe products sold online; organise regular workshops to exchange information and knowledge on laws, regulations and best practices and organise specific awareness-raising and training activities on EU product safety rules for companies selling online.
China shared updates on their policies and practices in the digital domain. Both parties agreed to continue discussions at technical level, by resuming the China-EU ICT Dialogue.
The first EU-China High-level Digital Dialogue took place in September 2020, and it had not met again since. The resumption of this Dialogue was announced by President Ursula von der Leyen during her visit to Beijing on 6 April 2023.
The Commission maintains an Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Dialogue with China at technical level, covering ICT and digital policies as well as regulatory issues, since 2009. However, this ICT Dialogue also had not met since 2020. In addition, engagement with China in science, technology and innovation takes place within the framework of the Joint Roadmap for the future of EU-China cooperation in science, technology, and innovation, under discussion.
The EU is actively engaged on AI governance, notably through the legislative proposal for an AI Act and internationally through the G7 Hiroshima Process. It will also contribute to global governance discussions initiated by the United Nations Secretary-General.
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Today, we had a frank discussion with China on crucial aspects of our digital policies and technology. We want to cooperate where we can make substantial progress. Today, we also took an important step forward on consumer protection. And we need to engage in areas where we disagree. We cannot resolve our concerns and different views in one day but we will maintain the dialogue on digital matters, which are so fundamental for both our economies and societies.
When it comes to AI, data, and other crucial digital assets, we have distinct approaches and systems. The EU is an open continent, but under our terms. Today represents an opportunity to introduce our comprehensive digital rulebook. We also call for increased reciprocity to enable European companies’ access to the Chinese market. In line with this, we have also agreed to relaunch our ICT dialogue.
The age of borderless online consumption has well and truly arrived – but so too have fresh global challenges to tackle. It means that multilateral cooperation must be further increased to ensure consumer protection. The Action Plan between the EU and China on the safety of products sold online will make online shopping safer not only for Europeans but also for Chinese consumers. For instance, it will help identify quicker and more efficiently dangerous products sold online and withdraw them from the marketplaces. This is a win-win-situation and an important step to raise standards of consumer protection within the European Union and beyond.
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