China and Europe are working side by side to tackle global challenges
Karmenu Vella says 2015 will be a major year for Europe, China and the world.
It is clear that in a world of limited resources, the need for China and the EU to work together on environmental issues has never been stronger. China's urban areas are expected to consume 20 per cent of the world's energy by 2030, and by 2050, its economy is projected to be 40 per cent larger than that of the US.
China is already facing major environmental challenges - air pollution is a serious concern and more than 400 cities are short of water. China's environmental challenges are also global challenges and we are working together with Beijing to address these.
Over the last decade, the European commission has provided more than €167m for environmental programmes in China, with environmental initiatives making up around 20 per cent of projects funded by the commission in the country.
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Policy dialogue on the environment since 2005, underpinned by these cooperation projects, has led to achievements in areas ranging from biodiversity and water protection to climate action, chemicals and electronic waste. Some of China's most recent environmental regulations are based on EU precursors.
When China revised its chemical regulations in 2010, it was strongly influenced by the EU's Reach legislation, supported by the EU-China policy dialogues support facility.
Chinese waste legislation on the control of pollution caused by electronic information products is also modelled on EU legislation in this area.
The EU-China partnership on climate change provides a high-level political framework to further strengthen the cooperation between EU and China by cooperating on, for example, low carbon technologies.
China is also an important partner for the EU in fisheries and maritime affairs. It is the second largest exporter of fisheries products to the EU and the second largest importer of these products from the EU.
I am keen to reinforce our existing cooperation and dialogue, including on ocean governance, unleashing the potential of the maritime economy and fighting illegal fishing globally.
Better ocean governance is key to securing the sustainable use of ocean resources, whether raw materials or seafood.
The EU therefore believes that our cooperation in this area should develop further, building on and beyond the EU-China memorandum of understanding signed in 2010.
I have also invited interested parties in China to respond to our recently launched public consultation on international ocean governance.
If the last 40 years have seen many successes, the Chinese-European partnership will become even more important in the future. China's global and multilateral role in these areas of policy is growing in importance, as the recent G7 summit demonstrated.
Therefore, it's not only about our bilateral cooperation with China but also about the country's willingness to play a globally responsible role in addressing the challenges ahead.
In a recent fruitful exchange of views I had with China's ambassador to the EU Yang Yanyi, I raised these issues and it was made clear that both sides are committed to working together on meeting common goals to green their economies, protect the environment and provide a better quality of life for their citizens.
This cooperation will be crucial for success in the three major global conferences coming up in 2015: in Addis Ababa in July on financing for development, in New York in September on the sustainable development goals and in Paris in December on climate change. I also intend to travel to China later this year to further strengthen our cooperation.
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