EU and China to strengthen co-operation

By Aoileann Ní Bhroin

Posted: 23 November, 2017

Following a meeting betweeen Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, and Chinese Vice-Premier Liu Yandong on the occasion of the 4th EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue in Shanghai, both parties have committed to strengthening cultural and educational ties.

The dialogue was launched in 2012 to build trust and understanding between the peoples of the EU and China. This year’s exchanges focused on culture, but education, gender equality, youth and, for the first time, sport were also discussed.

Following the meeting, Commissioner Navracsics said: “EU and China increasingly share global responsibilities. We work together on complex issues, from fighting poverty and tackling climate change to boosting trade and security. We build on shared views but sometimes we need to bridge differences. Promoting mutual understanding and respect between our people and cultures is therefore today more important than ever if we want to succeed.

The ambition to broaden the scope of EU-China co-operation was confirmed in the “Joint Communication on Elements for a new EU strategy on China“, adopted by the Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini on 22 June 2016. The Communication specifically mentions higher education, the creative and cultural industries and tourism as well as civil society development and migration/mobility.

In the field of culture, the two parties decided to intensify cultural co-operation by exploiting city-to-city interactions – particularly between the European Capitals of Culture and Culture Cities of East Asia – but also through the EU pilot project Creative Tracks and the Atelier for young cultural and festival managers. They also agreed to make best use of synergies between the European Year of Cultural Heritage and the China-EU Year of Tourism, which will both be held in 2018.

The two parties took stock of progress achieved under Erasmus+ mobility actions between the EU and China. Since 2015, more than 4,000 students and staff have already benefitted from the programme. Additionally, with over 70 universities participating in the action, China remains the top beneficiary of capacity-building projects, among partner countries, contributing to the modernisation and internationalisation of China’s higher education system.

In the fields of research and innovation, following the outcome of the 3rd China-EU High Level Innovation Co-operation Dialogue held on 2 June 2017, both parties agreed to boost researchers’ mobility through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

In the framework of the dialogue on gender equality, both sides discussed how to improve women’s economic empowerment and work-life balance. Finally, the role of youth in cultural diplomacy was the focus of the youth seminar; whereas in the field of sport, physical activity, sport education and the mobility of coaches were identified as the main areas for future cooperation.


Over the past decade the EU and China have closely co-operated in the areas of education, training, culture, multilingualism and youth through sector-focused policy dialogues. In 2012, the European Commission and China decided to integrate these sectoral activities under the High Level People-to-People Dialogue, which complements the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue and High Level Strategic Dialogue.

The High Level People-to-People Dialogue, held every two years, is the overarching mechanism which accommodates all EU-China joint initiatives in the field of people to people exchanges.

The first round of the EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue was held in Brussels on 18 April 2012. It led in particular to the launch of the EU-China Higher Education Platform for Co-operation and Exchange, which aims to upgrade policy dialogue and exchange of best practice in higher education. The second round of the EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue was held in Beijing on 6 September 2014. One of the immediate follow-up actions was the launch of the EU-China Tuning initiative aimed at strengthening the compatibility of EU and China education systems as well as enhancing outcome-based education. The third EU-China High Level People-to-People Dialogue took place in Brussels on 15 September 2015 between Commissioner Navracsics and Vice-Premier Liu Yandong. The event aimed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of EU-China diplomatic relations. Thematic panels on education, culture, youth and gender equality were held as side events.

For more information

EU-China High Level People to People Dialogue

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