EU reveals new economic security plan to resist ‘fierce’ Chinese tech competition

Press quote (EurActiv)
25 January 2024

Sander Tordoir, a senior economist at the Centre for European Reform, similarly praised the package’s general sentiment but criticised it for proposing “too much of the same soft coordination that has failed us so far”.

“I think directionally, it makes sense what they’re doing,” Tordoir told Euractiv. “They’re focussed on the right fault lines in the toolkit, like export controls and FDI screening, where Europe has been most vulnerable, fragmented.”

“[But] they need to be more aggressive and properly ‘Europeanise’ this so that China cannot lean on individual member states to get the EU to fracture,” he added.

Tordoir also pointed to the US’s success in pressuring the Netherlands last year to curb its sale of advanced chips to China as another notable example of why greater EU coordination in determining export controls is required.

“The US of course remains an ally, but sometimes our interests diverge,” he said. “I think having the whole EU behind these kinds of initiatives would be much better.”

Tordoir further noted that the Commission appeared to have “backtracked a bit” from its more stringent, pro-centralisation proposals issued last year.

He attributed this move to the fact that 2024 is an election year and that von der Leyen is likely cautious about stripping certain member states – especially Germany, whose closest trading partner is China – of its ability to determine its own economic security strategy.

“I think a short-term tactical political view probably won the day,” he said.