07:31 GMT31 October 2020
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    Relations between the EU and China are likely to grow stronger following the US president's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord on climate change on the very day Chinese Premier Li Keqiang meets EU chiefs for a strategic summit with climate change top of the agenda.

    European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, June 2, are hosting the annual EU-China summit in Brussels, with China represented by Premier Li Keqiang.

    The agenda talks of a "strategic partnership between the EU and China" with trade, climate change and migration among the issues to be covered.

    The Paris Accord on climate change is an agreement of some 195 countries on cutting emissions of greenhouse gases to ensure that the increase in the global average temperature is kept to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels.

    Trump, however, is a climate change denier and has consistently said he would exit the Paris Accord, which he announced he would do June 1, citing Trump's policy of putting "America First" and the alleged damage the accord would do to US industry — particularly its coal sector.

    ​This brought immediate condemnation from both the EU and China, coming, as it did, on the opening of the two-day summit in Brussels and signals the strains in EU-US relations and strengthens EU-China bonds.

    "The EU deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement. It is an unprecedented multilateral partnership between nearly 200 countries, supported by companies and communities across the world, to address a problem that threatens us all. It demonstrates our generation's responsibility towards this and future generations," said EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete.

    ​"The EU will strengthen its existing partnerships and seek new alliances from the world's largest economies to the most vulnerable island states. This partnership will of course include the many US businesses, citizens and communities that have voiced their support for Paris and are taking ambitious climate action. Together, we will stand by Paris, we will implement Paris," said Canete.

    "With tremendous efforts, China will steadfastly move towards the 2030 goal step-by-step," said Chinese Premier Li.

    Transatlantic Drift

    Trump has already unsettled transatlantic relations over both trade, and NATO. He has effectively scuppered the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal between the EU and the US by announcing the US would no longer pursue multilateral deals. 

    He has also given his backing to Brexit, saying the US would reach a trade deal with London as a matter of urgency, giving UK Prime Minister Theresa May a boots ahead of her negotiations with Brussels, which are due to begin June 19.

    The US President has also castigated European members of NATO over payments into NATO, castigating those — including Germany — that fail to meet the two percent of GDP spending on defense, which is a NATO target.

    ​The EU is China's biggest trading partner and the strains between Europe and Washington over Trump's presidency are likely to push the two closer together in future.


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