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Accessing the Vertical Incoherence of the EU vis-à-vis China: the Cases of the AIIB and the MES

Hai Yang

The article examines the positions and interests of the European Union (EU) and fourmember-states (United Kingdom, France, Germany and Italy) towards one of its most prominent andchallenging strategic partners-People's Republic of China. While recognising the coherence ofthe EU-or the lack thereof-can be studied from a multiplicity of perspectives, this researchfocuses explicitly on the vertical dimension, namely, the (in-) coherence between the EU andthe four large member-states. Predicated on the empirical observation that in the face of Chinastrong member-state competition seems to a defining feature, this research attempts to tracethe vertical incoherence of the Union vis-à-vis China, with particular reference to twoillustrative cases: the recent participation of member-states in the Beijing-led AsianInfrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the ongoing deliberation on granting China thecoveted Market Economy Status (MES). It finds that the pursuit of powerful national interest bylarge member-states, as far as the two cases at hand are concerned, clearly impedes theformulation or articulation of a definite position at the EU level.

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