Today we agreed in principle on a future Economic Partnership Agreement. The depth of this agreement goes beyond free trade. Its impact goes far beyond our shores.
It makes a statement about the future of open and fair trade in today's world. It sets the standards for others. And it shows that closing ourselves off to the world is neither good for business, nor for the global economy, nor for our workers.
As far as we are concerned, there is no protection in protectionism. Only by working together will we be able to set global standards when it comes to safety, environmental or consumer protection.
Nothing illustrates this better than our partnership with Japan. Together we account for a third of the world's GDP. The European Union already exports over EUR 80 billion of goods and services to Japan every year. One has to know, Europeans have to know, that more than 600,000 jobs in the European Union already now are linked to exports to Japan.
I can assure you that neither side is a naïve free trader. We have taken our time to make sure that any agreement is fair and benefits all sides. That is because both the European Union and Japan believe that open and fair trade can only happen with a level-playing field and with clear rules of engagement.
That is the strong message that Japan and the European Union will deliver together at tomorrow's G20 meeting in Hamburg.
[EU-Japan as global partners]
Japan and the European Union have long been partners, friends, allies. Our bond is built on a shared belief that the world is a stronger, safer and more prosperous place when we work together in a rules-based international system.
The Joint Declaration we signed today on the free flow of data is a further evidence of that. Data protection is a fundamental right in the European Union which we will always seek to uphold.
I would like to congratulate Prime Minister Abe on the remarkable progress Japan has made on making products from the Fukushima region safe, following the 2011 accident. I am confident and I will work into that direction that we will have after the summer break a further lifting of import measures.
[Future Economic Partnership Agreement: Jobs, growth and fairness]
For the businesses in the European Union, the Economic Partnership Agreement will open up new possibilities in a market of 127 million people living in the fourth richest economy in the world. It has the potential to increase our exports to Japan by more than a third.
The agreement would help cut the EUR 1 billion worth of customs tariffs EU exporters have to pay every year.
For wine producers that means a saving of EUR 134 million a year. For leather and shoe manufacturers it means EUR 174 million saved every year.
More than 90% of the EU's exports to Japan will be liberalised at entry into force of the Economic Partnership Agreement. And sectors that have been facing very serious challenges recently, like dairy, will now have new opportunities.
It is also good news for producers of the Austrian Tiroler Speck, the German Münchener beer, the Belgian Jambon d'Ardenne, the Polska Wódka, as well as 200 other EU Geographical Indications that will now enjoy the same level of protection in Japan that they have in Europe.
The agreement puts fairness and values at its core.
Like our agreement with Canada, it will set the template for others: it follows the highest standards of labour and environmental protection.
It has a dedicated chapter on sustainable development and it puts the focus on fair trade, as much as it does for free trade.
Today's agreement has been a long time in the making.
Over the last four years, we have been through 18 tough but fair negotiating rounds and countless meetings at technical and political level discussing everything from car parts, to procurement, all the way through to beef and different types of cheese.
Just last week two of our Commissioners – Cecilia Malmström and Phil Hogan – were in Tokyo to iron out the outstanding issues.
Our negotiators still have some work to do notably on issues such as investment protection.
I have made it clear that private tribunals have no place deciding on matters of public interest. We have strong, independent courts in the European Union and in Japan. Under this agreement, they will uphold the rule of law and nobody else.
This being said, the European Union puts its reformed Investment Court System on the table and we will reach out to all our partners, including Japan, to work towards the setting up of a Multilateral Investment Court.
Throughout the negotiations we have informed Member States and the European Parliament – Cecilia had many meetings with the civil society, including trade unions –, and this explanation effort will continue in the next coming weeks and months.
Transparency will continue to be amongst the priorities of the Commission.
I would like to thank all those involved for the progress made so far and especially Prime Minister Abe for making today a reality.
And I would like to pay a special tribute to our Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström: Cecilia, good job!