EU Reactions to China’s Economic Rise

Julia D. Zhdanova – attaché, Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation. 32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya Sq., 119200, Russia. E-mail:
Igor A. Istomin – PhD in Political Science, Senior Lecturer, Department of Applied International Analysis, MGIMO University. 76 Prospekt Vernadskogo, Moscow, 119454, Russia. E-mail:
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DOI 10.24833/2071-8160-2017-5-56-91-113 (Read the article in PDF)

The international actorness of the European Union is an object of prolonged scholarly and political debates. As an association of states with both complementary and competing interests it faces the problem of collective action. The EU elaborated several mechanisms to mitigate it effect, which, however, do not necessarily avail it to conduct a coherent policy towards other major powers. The current article demonstrates that when it comes to defending European interests in the world arena, Brussels faces a range of challenges even in the most developed spheres of the integration process, such as international economic cooperation. Due to the insufficiency of hegemony, common identity and institutional weakness, the member states of the European Union tend to pursue their own private interests, rather than speak for the common interest. This tendency is traced in the article using the record of relations between the EU and China. Despite the fact that the EU is, in many ways, wealthier and technologically more developed than China, its dependence on huge financial resources flowing from the Asian ascending power has grown in 2010s. While the European Commission’s goal is to secure access to Chinese market for European companies, individual member states vie for Chinese investments. To illustrate this, the article highlights competitive strategies of Germany, Great Britain, France and Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs). It examines engagement of the CEECs in the Chinese initiative “16+1”. The authors conclude that competition between European states in financial sphere reduces their bargaining leverage not only in economic matters, but also on some political issues.

Key words: European Union, China, collective action problem, Central and Eastern Europe, European troika, economic cooperation.

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