Note:Your browser doesn't correctly display this page because of a bad stylesheets interpretation. This is probably due to an old browser version.

[Luxembourg 2005 Presidency of the Council of the European Union]
 Version française        

You are here : Home > News > Speeches > May 2005 > Opening speech by Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs and current President of the EU Council, at the China – EU High-level Forum
Print this page Send this page

Opening speech by Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg Minister of Foreign Affairs and current President of the EU Council, at the China – EU High-level Forum

Date of Speech : 12-05-2005

Place : Great Hall of the People, Beijing

Speaker : Jean Asselborn

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

Event : EU-China (Troika)

Mister President, Minister Xu,


Misters Presidents of Academies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first say how pleased I am to be here today and express my gratitude for the opportunity given to the EU-Presidency to address a few words to you at the occasion of this High-level Forum on scientific and technological cooperation between the People’s Republic of China and the European Union.

I would like to transmit the regrets of my colleague Mr. François Biltgen, Minister of Culture, Higher Education and Research, who is held back in Luxembourg by a Presidency obligation.

Competitiveness of the European economy is one of the major economic policy themes of the Luxembourg EU-Presidency during the first semester of the year 2005.

The March Summit of European Heads of States and Governments has completed the mid-term review of the so-called Lisbon agenda, noting the lack of progress towards the objective of "establishing by 2010 in Europe the most competitive, knowledge based society in the world", as set in March 2000 in Lisbon. The Council therefore has laid the foundation of new governance towards achieving the objectives of more growth and employment in Europe. In this context the Council has stressed the importance for Europe to renew and strengthen the basis of its competitiveness by investing more in knowledge, innovation and human capital.

Investing in knowledge is, in fact, the best way to foster economic growth and to create more and better jobs while ensuring social progress and environmental sustainability. This central role of knowledge has recently been recognised by a High Level Expert Group chaired by Mr Wim Kok, former Dutch Prime Minister.

Seldom before have knowledge, science and research won that level of political attention in Europe. At the same time, we are aware of the fact that science and research are international by nature. No nation, be it big or small, or even a continent like Europe, can rely on its own assets and strengths alone to achieve real progress in science and to bring research to fruition for the benefit of its citizens.

This High Level Forum coincides with the celebration of the 30th Anniversary of EU-China diplomatic relations. Anniversaries provide a welcome opportunity as well to look back and consider what has already been attained as to look forward and plan for the future.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to express my deep satisfaction and high appreciation on the overall progress that has been achieved in the partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the European Union.

The EU-China partnership has always included a significant dimension of scientific research and technological cooperation. Concerning this cooperation we have good reasons, I think, to be full of pride of the state of development achieved so far.

The signing of a science and technology cooperation agreement in 1998 has provided a new strong impetus to the EU-China cooperation and significant progress in cooperation initiatives has been recorded since, not least following the creation of the joint EU-China Science and Technology Cooperation Promotion Office in Beijing in mid-2001. Research projects launched in a number of research fields since 2000 have reached total budgets of over € 100 million. Biotechnology, health, environment, new materials, information technology and energy have revealed as priority areas for cooperation.

Among all the cooperation projects put into place so far, I want to give a special mention to two major initiatives:

  • Through the contribution of the Chinese universities, institutes and industries, which have great experience in space and communication technologies, China will help GALILEO, the European worldwide system for satellite radio-navigation and positioning, to become a global infrastructure for the growing market for location services.
  • The European Union also highly welcomes the cooperation of the People’s Republic in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor ITER project. Furthermore, the European Union is particularly grateful for China’s support for the European site for this reactor.

I would also like to give a special tribute to the impressive research and development investment efforts paid by the People’s Republic over the last years, that have risen to over 150 billion yuan in 2003, with a year-on-year increase of nearly 20 percent. In this way, China doubled its budgetary expenditure on research and development from 2001 to 2005 in comparison to that from 1996 to 2000. This is, I think, the best proof of the firm belief of the Chinese Government that science and technology are driving forces for the country's overall social and economic development.

Considering also Europe’s determination to increase its investments in knowledge, innovation and human capital, I see plenty of opportunities for the further development of our science and technology cooperation as a contribution to mutual understanding of our people, to scientific development and to economic cooperation and trade. Based on common goals and understanding, the science and technology relations now have reached a level such as to make a significant contribution to the overall good relations between Europe and China.

Therefore, this Forum aiming at exchanging views on science and technology development strategies and policies, reviewing the China-EU science and technology relations in a broader context and agreeing on common long term policy actions, comes at a very timely moment. I would like to thank the Chinese Government for the valuable initiative of organizing this Forum.

As both China and the EU are now facing major strategic challenges such as economic growth, competitiveness and employment, regional and social coherence, sustainable development, it is in our common interest to find new ways and approaches to strengthen the EU-China science and technology cooperation by encouraging both a quantitative and a qualitative change in our cooperation in order to increase economic competitiveness of our societies and to solve common challenges that we both are confronted with.

This is a strong reason for China and the European Union to engage into a new Partnership on Knowledge for Growth and Development, involving business, universities, research institutions, research funding institutions and public administrations.

Scientific research and technological innovation, as the main source of new knowledge and a major field for its application, are cornerstones of the knowledge-based economy and society which is currently developing rapidly on a global scale. To become together more competitive, Europe and China must capitalise on a balanced and intense cooperation to better produce, transmit and exploit knowledge, and turn it into new products, new services and economically successful applications for the well-being of their citizens.

Let us not forget that prosperity in China and the EU creates multiplier effects that are positive for both. Partnership therefore means that we have to focus our cooperation in such a way as to foster "win-win" situations that improve our own research, technological innovation capacity and national competitiveness while engaging in an active and open collaboration. The success of this cooperation will depend on our capacity to mobilise talent, enterprises investment and research capacities.

I do strongly believe that Europe and China have an ever greater interest to work together as strategic partners for creating wealth from knowledge.

I am very confident that this Forum will further deepen the dialogue on joint science and technology development strategy and policy-making between China, the EU and its Member States and set the scene for building a strategic partnership between China and EU through reinforcing science and technology cooperation.

Let me finish by thanking Minister Xu for his initiative and his hospitality in hosting here in Beijing this important event and by expressing my hope that it will constitute an important step in a long and intense cooperation in the field of science and technology between the People’s Republic of China and the European Union.

Thank you very much.

Related links

This page was last modified on : 12-05-2005

Top Top