Are the EU and China on brink of investment deal?

Negotiations over an investment deal between China and the European Union have been stuck for years.

But according to EU officials an agreement is likely to be clinched this week.

The deal would give the bloc's firms better access to the Chinese market, better competition conditions and protections for investments.

On Tuesday (Dec 29) a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said the lengthy negotiations had made "huge progress":

"The discussions over the China-EU investment deal are the most important item on the agenda for us now. Through the efforts of both parties the discussions have achieved great progress, and the prospects are promising. We hope the deal can come to fruition at an early date and provide robust and systematic guarantees for China-EU trade cooperation and bring tangible benefits for companies and people from both sides."

But even if a deal happens, hammering out the legal details could take months.

And EU officials have said full implementation could take around a year.

Talks ground to a halt in 2014 as the bloc accused China of failing to deliver on promises to lift investment curbs.

That was despite a pledge by Beijing to open up the world's second largest economy.