Remarks on EU-Japan Summit

Remarks by Her­man VAN ROMPUY Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil fol­low­ing the EU-Japan Sum­mit
We have just con­clud­ed a very con­struc­tive and suc­cess­ful sum­mit, the Kizu­na sum­mit — the sum­mit of bonds of friend­ship — in the beau­ti­ful set­ting of Val Duchesse.
We had three main goals for this year’s sum­mit:

First to reaf­firm our sol­i­dar­i­ty with the Japan­ese gov­ern­ment and peo­ple in the after­math of the dis­as­ters of 11 March.

Sec­ond, to devel­op and con­firm EU sup­port and bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion in the field of nuclear safe­ty, dis­as­ter relief and human­i­tar­i­an aid — in light of the ter­ri­ble events in March. And third, to build on last year’s aim to re-ener­gize our rela­tions by work­ing towards clos­er polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic ties between the EU and Japan.

I am glad that today, we reached all three goals.

In Tokyo last year we decid­ed to review all aspects of the EU-Japan rela­tions — both polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic. The High-Lev­el Group in charge made a lot of progress over the last few months. On that basis we have achieved the fol­low­ing:

We have tak­en an impor­tant step in our trade rela­tion­ship. By launch­ing a “scop­ing exer­cise” we have set the course towards a Free Trade Agree­ment between the Union and Japan. We still have a long way to go , but the objec­tive is now clear.

Some might say that we have not gone far enough. I say, we should not under­es­ti­mate the polit­i­cal mean­ing of our deci­sion. When two of the world’s largest trad­ing part­ners joint­ly con­firm their inten­tion to work towards a Free Trade Agree­ment, that is a big step for­ward: It car­ries sym­bol­ic and polit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance, but also a lot more. The poten­tial eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal results are huge, in terms of jobs, growth, and a shared des­tiny.

But our rela­tion­ship can­not be just about trade. That’s why we con­firmed that both polit­i­cal and sec­toral aspects should be cov­ered, fur­ther devel­op­ing them in a bal­anced and com­pre­hen­sive way. We both have a high lev­el of ambi­tion, and com­mit­ted our­selves to par­al­lel nego­ti­a­tions of a linked Frame­work Agree­ment.

We do not start from zero, of course, the EU and Japan already have a co-oper­a­tion on the polit­i­cal side. But there is still major poten­tial wait­ing to be exploit­ed. We are not yet where we should be, we are not yet where we both wish to be. But at our today’s sum­mit we intend­ed to give new momen­tum to the exist­ing coop­er­a­tion.

As I men­tioned above, the Euro­pean Union and Japan already work togeth­er: on peace and secu­ri­ty, includ­ing in Afghanistan; on non-pro­lif­er­a­tion regard­ing North Korea. We should also devel­op our coop­er­a­tion on cri­sis man­age­ment.

In addi­tion, we should con­tin­ue to build on our close mul­ti­lat­er­al coop­er­a­tion, not least in the frame­work of Unit­ed Nations. The UN Res­o­lu­tion enhanc­ing the EU’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the work of the Gen­er­al Assem­bly will make this eas­i­er — and I thanked the Prime Min­is­ter for his sup­port in its adop­tion.

The triple dis­as­ter which hit Japan in March has influ­enced the con­text of EU-Japan rela­tions as well. After the earth­quake and the tsuna­mi dis­as­ter relief and human­i­tar­i­an relief are now even stronger in focus as areas of bilat­er­al coop­er­a­tion.

After the events in Fukushi­ma, Nuclear safe­ty is now also at the fore­front of the polit­i­cal agen­das world­wide. Imple­ment­ing the high­est lev­el of nuclear safe­ty and con­tin­u­ous­ly improv­ing safe­ty is a pri­or­i­ty for both the EU and Japan.

Our polit­i­cal coop­er­a­tion is built on the strong con­vic­tion that the Mem­ber States of the Euro­pean Union and Japan defend the same val­ues and the same type of soci­eties. We are both adapt­ing to a rapid­ly chang­ing world.

That is why it has been a priv­i­lege to dis­cuss with you, PM Kan, the changes of the glob­al strate­gic land­scape — from the devel­op­ments in East Asia (close to you) to those in the Arab world (close to us). We also exchanged views on devel­op­ments in the Euro­zone and the eco­nom­ic recov­ery in Japan, know­ing that in today’s glob­al econ­o­my we all depend on each other’s strength. Final­ly, Mr. Prime Min­is­ter, let me just recall the trag­ic days of 11 March and its after­math. The Euro­pean Coun­cil adopt­ed a dec­la­ra­tion of sol­i­dar­i­ty on that very day, and both Pres­i­dent Bar­roso and myself con­tact­ed you as soon as pos­si­ble to offer help.

But more impor­tant­ly, the triple dis­as­ter that hit Japan led to an imme­di­ate and mas­sive dis­play of sol­i­dar­i­ty from the Euro­pean pub­lic opin­ion in gen­er­al. This sol­i­dar­i­ty reflect­ed that the strong com­mit­ment to the strate­gic part­ner­ship of our coun­tries does exist not only amongst politi­cians, but pri­mar­i­ly amongst our publics. It is this foun­da­tion that we will build on in the future. I am con­vinced that Japan will come out strong out of these dis­as­ters. It will show the vital­i­ty of the Japan­ese peo­ple and democ­ra­cy.

Mr Prime Min­is­ter, I will fin­ish with a Haiku:

The three dis­as­ters
Storms turn into a soft wind.
A new, humane wind.

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union

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