BRUSSELS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of the European Union (EU) on Thursday expressed satisfaction with the development of EU-China ties, saying the bilateral relationship is vitally important.
"Today, our economic interests converge more than ever," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said at the Eighth EU-China Business Summit, held here and also attended by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.
"Only two decades ago, our bilateral trade amounted to close to nothing. Today we form the second largest economic cooperation in the world. In a remarkably short time span our economies have integrated to a point that it is now difficult to imagine one without the other," Van Rompuy said.
Noting that China has become the fastest growing market for European exports and the EU is also China's biggest export destination, he said, "We are key business partners to one another, and as such, it is only natural that we focus on deepening our dialogue."
He also urged the EU and China to work together to overcome the current difficulties.
"The idea of 'win-win' is often central in our discussions. My belief is that it should be driven not only by cooperation but also by complementarity," he added.
In his address to the business summit, Barroso said the expansion of EU-China economic relations over the last 30 years has been "truly impressive" and their economic interdependence has grown steadily.
"For years to come, I believe we still need to further strengthen this relationship and fully exploit the untapped opportunities and potential for greater mutual investment, trade, cooperation and growth," he said.
In a press release ahead of the 15th China-EU Summit, also held here Thursday, the European Commission said the summit came at an important moment for both Europe and China during a period of slowing global economic growth and an increasingly challenging international environment.
Both sides recognize that continuing to strengthen the EU-China strategic partnership is essential to get through these difficult times, the press release said.
"EU-China cooperation is indispensable in today's world, as shown by the increasing number of global issues on our common agenda -- from economic matters and trade to climate change and sustainable development," Barroso was quoted as saying.
"Our growing interdependence should contribute to bringing about more opportunities for citizens and for business," he added.
The EU-China relationship, said the press release, has developed significantly during the past decade, becoming much more strategic and comprehensive, as both the EU and China have evolved into more important world players.