Throughout the EU’s work on international partnerships, it is clear that China is a key player in almost all areas. China has shifted from a recipient to a provider of development assistance and plays an increasingly important role in international development as a donor and lender. Therefore, engaging China as a cooperation partner is critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs).

Our Work

The EU Delegation engages Chinese counterparts to enhance mutual understanding between the EU and China on international development policies, promoting the exchange of information on best practices and international sustainability standards. The EU is the world’s largest provider of development assistance.  Sharing EU practices on international development and raising awareness of EU key policies is, therefore, an important regular component of EU Delegation’s exchanges with Chinese policymakers, academic institutions, think tanks, the development community and international organisations’ experts.  This includes a discussion on the EU’s overall approach to development cooperation and key sectoral policies.  These are outlined in the European Consensus on Development, as well as the EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy, the EU strategy on Multilateralism, and the EU-Africa Strategy.

On the basis of common interests and international commitments, the EU and China must work together on tackling global challenges, such as those related to climate change, the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the international response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the establishment of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) in 2018, EU-China exchanges on international development cooperation have intensified.

Priority Areas

In terms of international development cooperation in the period 2021-2027, the EU works on three priority areas in China, namely:

  • Promoting global public goods and addressing global challenges – including climate change, biodiversity, sustainable consumption and production, etc.
  • Underpinning EU values – including supporting a vibrant, empowered, pluralistic and independent civil society, as well as safeguarding human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance, and the rule of law, etc.
  • Exploring innovative ways of cooperation between the EU and China in developing regions and countries.

Programmes like the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and the Civil Society Organisation–Local Authorities (CSO-LA) launch calls on a regular basis to provide financial support to civil society organisations working in China.

EU bilateral aid to China stopped in 2012.  However, due to the significant impact of Chinese development policies on global public goods (GPGs), the Green Deal, and the development pathway of other regions and developing countries, the EU maintains active support in these fields in China focused on global development outcomes.

Under the current EU financial framework for 2021-2027, the EU's external action is supported by the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI – Global Europe). The NDICI ‘Global Europe’ provides funding for cooperation actions across the world and is underpinned by the “policy-first” principle, allowing for better alignment of international cooperation with EU political and policy priorities. This instrument also offers more flexibility and responsiveness to new emerging priorities and challenges in a fast-changing world.  

Recent examples of EIDHR and CSO-LA projects include:

  • Promoting NGOs capacity to advocate in environmental policy and legal action.
  • Joint efforts on empowering NGO to create sustainable support to vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities in China, migrants and left-behind, child victims of abuse, rural and remote women, informal workers, etc.
  • Supporting NGOs to advance women’s decision-making, gender equality and women empowerment, also in rural remote areas.

More details: