There can be no question of the same conditions in trade between the EU and China.

While the EU largely grants Chinese companies free access to their market, the opposite is true.

Beijing, for example, is sealing off the market for public contracts, while the Chinese are free to apply for contracts in the EU.

But that's not all.

The Chinese government supports its companies through subsidies so that their offers in the EU are cheaper than those of the competition.

According to the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI), they are often a quarter below those of the next cheaper European provider.

Discounts of up to 60 percent are not uncommon, it is said in Brussels.

Hendrik Kafsack

Business correspondent in Brussels.

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The EU now wants to change that. It wants to use a new trading instrument to create the option of excluding China from awarding public contracts. The "Instrument for International Procurement", or IPI for short, is also intended to be a means of pressure to open up procurement markets in third countries. Member States paved the way for the instrument in June. Now it is the turn of the European Parliament, which is on an equal footing with the states in terms of legislation. In the end, both sides must agree on a common position so that the instrument can come into force.

It is already becoming apparent that the European Parliament will advocate a much stricter line towards China than the member states have done.

At least that is what the MEP responsible for the dossier, CDU politician Daniel Caspary, plans to do.

He wants to officially present his plans in the middle of next week.

For the states, the exclusion of Chinese companies should only be the very last resort.

They rely on creating “fair” conditions through surcharges of up to 40 percent.

Germany has already given in

Caspary doesn't go far enough. “We cannot create fair competition with surcharges alone, especially since European offers are often undercut much more,” he says. Either there is unfair competition, then the Chinese would have to be completely excluded, or not. Caspary does not want to leave it to the EU member states - as decided by them - to allow exceptions to the ban. The European Commission alone has to decide on this.

The CDU politician is optimistic that his line can prevail in the European Parliament. At least the Greens are already signaling their support. "I would support him in this," says MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, who is responsible for the proposal in parliament for his group. The mark-up system means considerable effort and has only a very limited potential for impact. Bans are therefore the only way. Caspary plans that parliament will determine its line this year and then start negotiations with the EU states.

However, they could be difficult. Hungary, for example, had resisted the instrument for a long time, fearing a sharp rise in the costs of public contracts. Fundamental resistance comes from Northern Europe. The states there are worried that the instrument will be misused to seal off the EU. For the same reason, the Federal Ministry of Economics had blocked the instrument for years, but gave way in the spring after the investment agreement with China for public contracts that had been agreed in the winter had not made any progress.