Diplomatic ties had been strained following Beijing's decision to abruptly cancel the EU-China summit scheduled for December, amid tensions over French President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to meet the Dalai Lama (Euractiv 28/01/09).
The leaders declined to formally fix a date, but Reuters quoted diplomatic sources as saying an April meeting in the Czech Republic is likely. The summit is likely to take place shortly after the G20 meeting, which takes place in London on April 2.
Asked whether he felt relations had been strained following last year's cancellation of the EU-China summit scheduled for December, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said he did not believe the "difficulties" would affect a broader historical trend towards closer ties.
Wen said cooperation is critical to stabilising the international financial system. This was the main subject of the meeting between the Chinese delegation and the European Commission in Brussels.
Barroso said the EU and China will also work closely to cooperate on climate change ahead of a UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen this December. Barroso said he raised the sensitive issues of Tibet and human rights in China during discussions with Wen, while a group of approximately 100 pro-Tibetan protesters rallied outside the Commission building. "There were no taboos – it was a frank and open discussion based on mutual respect," the Commission president added.
Wen said he had no difficulty with the EU raising any subject, providing it is done on the basis of "real equality and mutual trust". He described Barroso as "a far-sighted statesman and a candid friend".
He said China supports EU integration and development and that cooperation is central to global peace and prosperity. "We are of the view that a strong EU is key to a multi-polar world," Wen added.
At its meeting in the European Commission, the EU and China signed nine cooperation agreements covering intellectual property rights (IPR), clean energy, occupational health, civil aviation, student exchange and trade in drug precursors.
Barroso put particular emphasis on moves to strengthen enforcement of IPR by customs authorities, saying it is an issue to which the EU attaches great importance.
Commissioner László Kovács said China is aligning its customs legislation to correspond with EU rules. However, he added that China remains a main source of fake goods or illicit drug precursors entering the EU.