Dutch Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (ALDE/D66) calls on EU trade Commissioner, Karel de Gucht, to open negotiations on a direct investment treaty between the European Union and China, which is to substitute the current 26 existing bilateral treaties between China and EU-member states. "EU-China trade has drastically increased since 2006, in 2012 alone with a value of 434 billion Euros. However, total EU investments in China are seven times larger than vice versa, while European businesses need new capital. That is why we should remove investment barriers", says Schaake. Formal negotiations between the EU and China could begin soon. Market access China has indicated a market access chapter could be included in a direct investment agreement, which is a precondition for Schaake for opening the negotiations. "There is a large list of current obstacles for European companies looking to do business in China, whether its discrimination, complex tariff structures or technical barriers to trade. That should end. As a member of the World Trade Organisation, China is bound to open its markets and enable a level playing field and allow fair competition. This will eventually also benefit European consumers and businesses, particularly and SMEs", Schaake argues. Human rights and transparency Although Schaake supports the negotiations, strict criteria for transparency and respect for human rights, environmental laws and labour standards will be a crucial part of any agreement. "Goods that are made in labour camps should fall outside the scope of the new deal and the EU should insist that human rights and the rule of law will feature more prominently on the agenda of the annual EU-China political summit. If these demands are not met I cannot see the European Parliament endorsing such a deal." Strategic sectors, such as defence procurement and parts of the EU's ICT infrastructure could be excluded from the agreement, the MEP says; "we must never forfeit European security and autonomy." Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote on a resolution setting out its position on investment negotiations with China. Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote on a resolution setting out its position on investment negotiations with China.