After seven years of talks, the European Union and China have agreed in principle on an investment agreement after their leaders met on a conference call on Dec. 30. The parties had set the end of 2020 as the deadline to strike a deal. The European Commission said that the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) will give EU investors an “unprecedented level” of access to the Chinese market, creating a better balance in foreign investments, and will “significantly improve the level playing field” between EU companies and Chinese state-owned enterprises. China will no longer be able to prohibit access or introduce discriminatory practices for European companies. It will make it easier for them to obtain authorizations and complete administrative procedures. The agreement calls for transparency in state subsidies and rules against the forced transfer of technologies. It includes for the first time commitments by China on sustainable development and against forced labor, calling for China’s ratification of relevant fundamental conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The two sides will aim to conclude negotiations on investment protection and the settlement of related disputes within two years of the signature of the CAI, which has still to be approved by the EU Council and the European Parliament.