— China and the European Union Wednesday took their co-operation to a new level with the launch of a "people-to-people" dialogue covering education, culture, youth, research and multilingualism.
Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong, and Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, signed a joint declaration, committed to strengthening contacts and exchanges between their peoples in order to deepen understanding and trust.
"Today's joint declaration is a very important step forward in our relationship. The people-to-people dialogue will open up our contacts and co-operation on a wide range of issues, bringing real benefits to European and Chinese citizens," Vassiliou says.
The new EU-China High-Level People-to-People Dialogue represents a "third pillar" in relations between the two partners, building on two previous cooperation agreements: the High-Level Economic and Trade Dialogue ("first pillar") and the High-Level Strategic Dialogue ("second pillar").
The people-to-people dialogue will enjoy the same status as the other agreements and will have flexible structure with very low financial implications.
A number of follow-up actions have already been identified. China and the EU will expand the opportunities for mobility in education, and increase the number of exchanges between students and scholars, particularly in higher education.
The two sides will work together to improve the mutual recognition of academic qualifications. To promote language-learning, China and the EU will jointly organize a major conference on multilingualism at the end of the year.
For their youth, the two parties will increase support for exchanges and networking between their respective youth organizations, and strengthen web-based cooperation between the Chinese and EU portals specialized in youth issues.
Its cloing ceremony, which will take place in China at the end of the year, will include a declaration on future cultural co-operation.