Over 90% (91,13%) of respondents to the online public consultation carried out by a group of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) spoke against granting China market economy status (MES), according to the results presented on 25 May. The remaining “8% of them said China should be granted MES if the EU Trade Defence Instruments (TDIs) are reinforced,” the MEPs added.
“The European Commission can’t close its eyes to these results,” Edouard Martin (S&D, France), one of the funders of the EU Interest Group on MES, which launched the public consultation, told a press conference.
Describing the opposition as “massive,” Emmanuel Maurel (S&D, France), a spokesman for the group, said the results would be “handed over to the Commission and other EU institutions.” He expressed hope that the EU executive will take them into consideration while drafting its legislative proposal on changes to the EU trade defence system in relation to the future treatment of China.
“Undeniably, this counter-consultation managed to provide MEPs with a better insight of the expectations of Europeans on this issue,” the three MEPs said in a joint statement released later the same day.
The so-called “counter-public consultations” were launched on 15 March by a group of over 70 MEPs, who strongly oppose granting China MES. The initiative was meant to provide an alternative platform for exchanges of views on all aspects of Beijing’s request for MES to the public consultations that were launched by the Commission on 10 February.
“The format of the consultations launched by the Commission was not acceptable,” David Borrelli (EFDD, Italy), one of the funders of the group, told the press conference, referring to the Commission’s questionnaire, which was composed of closed questions. He underlined that the counter-consultation included 10 “open and neutral” questions addressed to “all kind of stakeholders.”
However, some of the examples of replies provided in the “presentation of the results” by the MEPs are difficult to assess. “China is to be welcomed as a business partner with respect, however, the EU needs to protect the European markets and companies,” says a citizen from Austria.
“The cost of industrial production of our companies is in no way comparable with that of China, we must respect rules, regulations, workers’ rights and a very high taxation … What the EU should do is to have an internal circulation of products more controlled and certified by anywhere it may come… ,” says Alessio Molon from Italian company Impresa.
Neither of these answers is clear enough to suggest that they fall under the “no MES for China” category.
Between 15 March and 15 May, the group of MEPs received in total 6092 replies from 19 member states (Portugal, Spain, UK, Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Sweden, Poland, Romania, Denmark, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Finland).
Asked about the missing countries, Martin pointed to logistical difficulties. “Maybe our network in these 9 countries was not good enough,” he said, stressing that it doesn’t mean that these countries are in favour of granting China MES.
But some sources in the Parliament expressed doubt about credibility of the consultation, pointing to the fact that the MEPs who launched it are not impartial. “It’s obvious that this initiative was promoted first of all among opponents of granting MES to China rather than supporters,” an EP source said. “It all depends on whom you ask,” he added.
On 10 February, the Commission launched an online public consultation on the “possible change in the methodology to establish dumping/subsidisation in trade defence investigations concerning China.”
For 10 weeks, all interested stakeholders had the opportunity to present their views on required changes in the EU legislation related to the treatment of China in anti-dumping investigations. The 15-page questionnaire was composed of closed multiple-choice questions.
Up to 20 April, when the consultations were closed, the Commission had received 5,273 replies “from a variety of organisations and a number of individual citizens (around 50).” The analysis of the replies will be published in “coming weeks,” the Commission said in a statement issued on 20 April.
By Joanna Sopinska