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European academic suggests alternatives to Taiwan-EU investment agreement

Academic says bilateral agreements in human rights, labor, technology might provide better prospects for Taiwan

Aušra Andriuškaitė, head of the Lithuanian Communities Association in Taiwan. (Aushros Facebook photo)

Aušra Andriuškaitė, head of the Lithuanian Communities Association in Taiwan. (Aushros Facebook photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Speaking at a recent Ghent University forum, Jasper Roctus, associate fellow at the Brussels-based Egmont Institute said that a Taiwan-EU bilateral investment agreement is unlikely.

Taiwan’s efforts to secure a Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) with the European Union face hurdles due to the EU's cautious stance on recognizing Taiwan's sovereignty. Despite strong support from the European Parliament and advocacy efforts, negotiations have made little progress, with the European Commission hesitant to move forward, reported CNA on Tuesday (Sept. 12).

A potential breakthrough for a Taiwan-EU BIA might come with next year’s EU change of government or by capitalizing on Taiwan's semiconductor industry prowess, CNA suggested. Some European think tank scholars have offered alternative perspectives, suggesting that non-economic and non-trade-related bilateral agreements could offer Taiwan better opportunities.

During a recent forum at Ghent University, Jasper Roctus of Egmont Institute, which is also known as the Royal Institute for International Relations, said that any move by the EU toward a bilateral investment agreement with Taiwan or anything approaching formal recognition of Taiwan's sovereignty is currently improbable.

Roctus explained that for the European Commission, bilateral trade agreements involve sovereign actions among nations, differing from multilateral arrangements under the World Trade Organization (WTO). He recommended that beyond economic and trade matters, other bilateral agreements in areas such as human rights, labor, or technology might provide better prospects for Taiwan.

Roctus said that even if the European Commission were willing to negotiate a BIA with Taiwan, achieving consensus among the EU's 27 member states would be an arduous task. EU members, like Cyprus, Hungary, and Romania, hold pro-China positions, while others such as Lithuania and the Czech Republic lean toward Taiwan, he continued.

President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) administration has prioritized securing a BIA with the EU as a pivotal element of its European policy. However, the European Commission, responsible for administrative decisions, remains skeptical, citing adherence to the EU's "One China Policy" as a major constraint on its willingness to engage in agreements that may be perceived as recognizing Taiwan's sovereignty.

As Taiwan continues to navigate the complex landscape of international agreements, securing a BIA with the EU remains a critical objective, albeit one fraught with political sensitivities and geopolitical hurdles.