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NEWS

EU leaders resolve to boost economic security amid global tension

By Belén Carreño

GRANADA, Spain (Reuters) – European Union leaders resolved on Friday to strengthen the bloc’s competitiveness, be at the forefront of new green and digital technologies and reduce its reliance on third countries, notably China.

In a declaration at the end of an EU summit in Spain, the leaders said the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 had tested the bloc’s resilience and the EU needed to boosts its competitiveness.

They agreed that the 27-nation EU should bolster its single market, reduce external dependencies in digital and green technologies, raw materials and critical medicines, and boost investment in research and skills.

“We will strengthen our position as an industrial, technological and commercial powerhouse, putting a special focus on areas of high added value where we already have a competitive edge or can become a frontrunner,” the declaration read.

The Granada declaration should steer discussions in the coming months on European Commission proposals that could lead to tighter control of exports and outflows of technologies, particularly those that could be put to military use.

The EU executive plans to work with the 27 EU members to assess by the end of the year whether there are any risks to the bloc’s economic security linked to advanced semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum technology and biotechnology.

It is part of the European Economic Security Strategy unveiled by the Commission in June that calls for strengthening the EU’s own internal market, fostering research, forging alliances with reliable partners, and using existing trade defence tools and considering new ones.

One use of those tools is an investigation to assess whether electric vehicles from China are unfairly benefiting from subsidies there. An EU source said it was likely to be followed by other inquiries into Chinese exports, such as wind turbines.

Part of the debate will centre on the degree to which countries are willing to harmonise their policies on national security and transfer certain powers to Brussels.

Another aspect will be the extent to which European markets should remain open to foreign companies. Countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands want more open markets, while others such as France has more focus on protecting domestic producers.

(This story has been refiled to update the headline)

 

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels and Belen Carreno in Granada; editing by Andrew Heavens and Mark Heinrich)

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