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Speech: Remarks by President Barroso following the EU-Japan Summit

European Commission - SPEECH/14/348   07/05/2014

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European Commission

[Check Against Delivery]

José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Remarks by President Barroso following the EU-Japan Summit

Press Conference

Brussels, 7 May 2014

Dear Prime Minister Abe, it is very good to welcome you here in Brussels at the end of what has been a very intensive European week which included visits by the Prime Minister of Japan to several of our Member States. I really congratulate you Prime Minister for this engagement with Europe and European countries.

This Summit was a testimony that Japan and the European Union are committed to expand and strengthen their partnership and to face evolving global challenges together, building on our shared values and principles.

Close cooperation between the EU and Japan is more important than ever not just for the two of us but also for peace and stability and a rules-based international order.

And as major economic players – together we account for close to 27% of global GDP – we also have a shared responsibility to contribute to global growth and job creation.

I am glad therefore to see that we are cooperating more and more on political and security issues and that our trade relation has been growing at 4% annual growth rate over the past 5 years to reach €110 billion in 2013. This means that we are not just talking the talk, but also walking the walk.

And last year we have embarked in the negotiation of a Strategic Partnership Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement that will seal our strategic partnership and put our common principles into practice.

The Strategic Partnership Agreement will enable us to stand together in many issues of common interest in the global agenda, from security to climate change or energy. And I believe that when Europe and Japan stand together the chances of making things happen is much higher.

And the negotiation of a Free Trade Agreement between two major players in the world economy is likely to be one of the most important trade negotiations in the years to come. These will be a transformational agreement for both our economies anchoring many of the reforms that are already underway.

The economic gains in terms of growth and jobs are considerable.

We want these negotiations to succeed.

But for this agreement to be truly transformational we need to inject a high level of ambition across the board – especially in areas such as market access for goods, including agriculture, non-tariff measures, public procurement or geographical indications. Only such an agreement could generate the maximum benefits for both parties and I trust that the two sides will do their utmost to reach this level of ambition.

Let me also say that I very much appreciate that today we launched a dialogue on cyber issues. We need to be prepared to face today's unconventional threats to our societies and values. And we also agreed to deepen our cooperation on science, technology and innovation. Our Horizon 2020 programme is open to Japanese researchers and universities.

During our very substantive discussions today, always in a spirit of deep friendship and openness, we also stressed the urgency to act on climate change. The EU and Japan recognise that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emission by all parties must be made, if we are to avoid the major negative impacts of climate change.

We are in a critical period in the international climate negotiations. The EU and Japan need to show continued leadership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home and inspire the action of others.

The EU will present an ambitious contribution to the 2015 Agreement by March next year and we invite our Japanese partners to do so, too. We need a critical mass of contributions by March to ensure a successful agreement in Paris in December next year.

Ukraine has of course been subject of our discussions. I will not repeat what President Van Rompuy just said, I fully agree with these remarks. Let me just highlight some areas where the European Commission is developing its work.

We are determined to help Ukraine, and to make sure that Ukraine has all the support it needs, in the short- and long- term, to undertake the political and economic reforms that are necessary for the country, with the common objective of an independent, stable and democratic Ukraine.

This will be the main subject of the meeting that the European Commission will hold with the Ukrainian Government, led by Prime Minister Yatseniuk, in Brussels, on Tuesday next week.

Energy security is one of the key issues for Ukraine right know. A few days ago, I attended the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding enabling gas flows from Slovakia to Ukraine. This was an important first step to diversify Ukraine’s sources of gas supply and it can contribute to greater energy security in Eastern Europe and the EU as a whole. It shows the EU's strong commitment in support of Ukraine's energy sector.

And last week, at my proposal, European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger held a first trilateral exchange of views with his Ukrainian and Russian counterparts dedicated to security of gas supply and transit from Russia via Ukraine. They discussed how to best ensure continued gas supplies and transit including concerns about the outstanding debt of Ukraine and the gas price for supplies to Ukraine. They also discussed methods to increase transparency and reliability of gas flows and gas storage as well as ways to ensure the modernisation of the Ukrainian gas market and the gas transmission system.

I would like to thank Japan for the coordinated actions we have been taking regarding Ukraine in the framework of the G7 group. And a special word of thanks to the Prime Minister, because of his personal commitment.

Let me finish by thanking Prime Minister Abe for an excellent meeting and for our excellent cooperation.

Japan is and will remain a pillar of Europe's Asia policy and a key partner and friend in the world scene.

I thank you for your attention.


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