Poland opposes fast-tracking of EU-China deal - source

"A new US administration will take over in three weeks' time. Given transatlantic issues and relations with the EU, the United States is an important actor on the geopolitical scene and the agreement with China should take into account the relations between the EU and the US," said Andrzej Sadoś, the Polish ambassador to the EU. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Poland voted against speeding up work on a new EU-China investment agreement at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, after the European Commission said the deal was ready, PAP learnt from a source in Brussels.

According to the source, the German presidency of the EU Council informed EU member states on Sunday evening that it was going to put the EU-China deal on the agenda of the Monday meeting of EU ambassadors.

Some EU members were surprised by the news, the source also said.

The European Commission (EC), the EU's executive arm, told the ambassadors that the deal had been arranged and that the EC and the German presidency were thinking of when and how to communicate the news to the public.

The talks between the EU and China had been going on for seven years and the main bones of contention included forced labour in China, an International Labour Organisation Convention that China has not signed and mutual investment protection.

Andrzej Sadoś, the Polish ambassador to the EU, told PAP on Monday that Poland had underscored the importance of geopolitical issues in EU-China talks.

"A new US administration will take over in three weeks' time. Given transatlantic issues and relations with the EU, the United States is an important actor on the geopolitical scene and the agreement with China should take into account the relations between the EU and the US," he said.

"We also said that we should not be acting hastily after seven years of difficult negotiations. And suddenly such a point is being added to the agenda of an EU ambassadors' meeting in Brussels. This is an unprecedented situation," Sadoś said as he explained Poland's opposition to the fast-tracking of the deal.

The EC has the mandate to negotiate the deal and reports on the course of the negotiations to the member states. The states then carry out the formal ratification process which may take from one to two years.