US President Joe Biden speaks at a meeting with a bipartisan group of Congressmen.
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LONDON – According to a draft EU document, the European Union and the United States are expected to call for further progress in investigating the origins of Covid-19.
The draft document, which was viewed by CNBC, forms the basis for the outcome of an upcoming summit meeting between US President Joe Biden and European leaders due to be held on Tuesday. The wording can change until the end of the meeting.
European Council President Charles Michel, chairman of the European summits, said on Thursday: “The world has a right to know exactly what happened in order to learn from it.”
We need to know where it came from.
Ursula von der Leyen
President of the European Commission
At the same press conference on Thursday, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “It is of the utmost importance that we learn about the origin of the coronavirus.”
“There is this terrible pandemic, a global pandemic that we need to know where it came from in order to learn the right lessons and develop the right tools to make sure this never happens again and therefore, investigators need full access. ” to all that it takes to truly find the source of this pandemic, “she added.
These statements follow Biden’s call last month to the World Health Organization to conduct a second phase of an investigation into the origins of the virus, which was first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019.
A WHO report earlier this year said the most likely cause of the virus was natural and rejected a laboratory leak theory. But it suggested that more studies needed to be done.
US Intelligence said last month that it “does not know exactly where, when or how the Covid-19 virus was originally transmitted, but it has evolved around two likely scenarios: either it is naturally through human contact originated with infected animals or it was a “laboratory accident.”
The discussion about the origins of the coronavirus comes at a time when the US and EU also want to talk about their broader relations with China.
On the one hand, the US and the EU want to criticize what they call human rights violations in China; On the other hand, they want Beijing to be constructive in favor of climate policy and open up certain parts of its economy.
Biden hopes the EU will be a partner in dealing with China in the coming years.
“Biden believes that with a broad coalition you may be able to push China down a more constructive path. International pressure, not just from Washington, could prove useful on any of these issues,” said Jeremy Ghez, associate professor at The HEC Business School in Paris told CNBC last week.
The EU decided in March to put the ratification of an investment agreement with Beijing on hold – an agreement that was tabled back in December, just weeks before Biden’s inauguration.
This investment partnership is now frozen after a diplomatic dispute between Brussels and Beijing. In March, the EU decided to sanction China for its treatment of the Uyghur ethnic minority, and Beijing reciprocated by announcing counter-sanctions against members of the European Parliament.
The ethnic Uyghurs, who live primarily in western China, have been identified as an oppressed group by the United Nations, the United States, Britain, and others. China’s Foreign Ministry in March called such claims “malicious lies” aimed at “defaming China” and “thwarting China’s development.”