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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso at the press conference of the EU-Japan Summit
EU-Japan Summit press conference/Tokyo
19 November 2013
Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality. I am very pleased to be in Japan again and it is also a pleasure to meet Prime Minister Abe in his capacity as Prime Minister of Japan.
I remember our 16th European Union-Japan Summit in June 2007. Some of the subjects that we discussed at the time like energy, climate change, the situation in the Korean Peninsula or Iran are still on the agenda today. This shows that our partnership and cooperation has to be embedded in a long term strategic vision.
Last April we launched the negotiations for two landmark agreements for European Union-Japan relations: a Strategic Partnership Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement.
These two agreements lay the basis for an intense cooperation for the decades to come. They represent the ambition that we have for our relations and the strategic nature, I can even say "strategic friendship", that binds us together.
I know that the priority of Prime Minister Abe is precisely to boost growth, jobs and competiveness. And the European Union-Japan Free Trade Agreement will be an important part of the response to those challenges. Sure, good for Japan, but also good for Europe, because it will also be a key complement of the structural reforms that both Europe and Japan are undertaking. And we know by experience that sometimes structural reforms are the most difficult to achieve.
Trade is the best way to generate growth without putting additional pressure on taxpayers. This is why the European Union has embarked on an ambitious trade agenda and I also commend Japan for doing the same.
Now it's time to enter into the real substance of the negotiations on all chapters of the future agreement. The benefits we both seek will only materialise if the Agreement is sufficiently ambitious in all areas, whether it be trade in goods, services or public procurement.
We also agreed that by spring 2014 we should be well advanced as to demonstrate that such an ambitious agreement is possible and that commitments already made are being implemented.
This agreement, I believe, will also have a positive spillover effect for the global economy and also for third countries given the existent global supply chains. As two of the four largest world economies Europe and Japan have an important stake in ensuring strong, sustainable and balanced growth as we have agreed at the G20.
During our discussions, I had the chance to congratulate Prime Minister Abe for what was achieved in just 12 months in office. We are certainly pleased to see the dynamism and renewed confidence back in the Japanese economy. We believe Japan is an important factor in the equation for global growth.
I also congratulated Prime Minister Abe and Japan for the selection of Tokyo to host the 2020 Olympic Games. Here again we have a real sign of renewed confidence.
We all know that in today's world, besides the economy, we also need to cherish our common values and principles.
This is why our Strategic Partnership agreement is so important. Because our agreement will build on our like-mindedness and give more impetus to our growing cooperation in sectoral, global and political issues.
We have discussed some of these areas during our Summit. We are going to step up our cooperation in areas such as energy where we have a common interest in ensuring nuclear safety, diversifying our energy mix, developing more renewable sources and investing in smart grids; we decided to foster our cooperation in civil protection, in development issues and also we made a point of giving a great priority to science and research, where Europe and Japan have very important assets.
Prime Minister, while we may not be sailing always the same boat, we navigate the same seas. This is why we have a common interest in regional stability. In today’s world Asian security and stability is European security and stability. For the European Union, it is important that countries in the region are able to manage their relations in a stable and predictable way in the interests of Asia and international community.
This Summit was, ladies and gentleman, a real demonstration that remain unequivocally committed to our bilateral relations and to the prosperity and well-being of our people.
I thank you for your attention.