viernes, 31 de enero de 2014

EU-Japan relations: an untapped potential


Yesterday MEPs checked the state of play of the currently negotiated EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) at a public hearing in the European Parliament in Brussels. The hearing was organized by the EPP Group and hosted by Alojz Peterle MEP, the institution's appointed Rapporteur on the matter.
“EU-Japan relations if enhanced in a comprehensive manner and lifted onto a higher and more strategic plain represent a huge untapped potential”, said Peterle.
The EU and Japan together represent more than one third of the global share of GDP and sources of revenues. With high living standards and seemingly common future challenges, the new agreement comes in the right moment to “provide a change of paradigm, bring people together, bring them hope and a new future, with full commitment and substance ready to deliver concrete results”, as expressed by Mr Shiojiri, Ambassador of Japan to the EU. He also praised the “comprehensive nature of the agreement”.
Mr Isticioaia-Budura, chief negotiator of the EU-Japan SPA and Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific of the European External Action Service (EEAS), reminded about the two track approach of negotiations through which the trade agreement is negotiated in parallel with the strategic agreement since 25 March 2013. He especially emphasized the legally binding nature and the tailored-made approach for negotiating the agreements.
Members of the academic community agreed that the enhancement of political relations could be used to leverage both blocks' soft power position through the upward harmonization of common standards by establishing them on a global and regional level. The areas to be harmonized on a higher level, according to them, are environmental sustainability, health and joint cooperation in the promotion of human rights, peace and security, democracy and the rule of law.
Referring to the state of play of negotiations of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Pablo Zalba Bidegain MEP, said: “Different perspectives and ways of doing business exist in both sides, but precisely because of the agreement being negotiated, those many times cultural differences would be effectively minimized”. In this respect, the European Chief Negotiator for the FTA, Mr Mauro Petriccione, underlined, that in 20 years’ time the full potential of market liberalization and harmonization will reach its full impact, with positive effects over job creation, economic and investment activity and substantially enhanced trade volumes.
Alojz Peterle MEP stressed that after four rounds of negotiations the need to “intensify the efforts to move forward with great dynamism, without neglecting the fundamental values both parts share and the responsibility they have to spread them on a global and regional context”.
Peterle concluded that he will table a draft report on the matter containing specific recommendations in the next weeks at the Committee of Foreign Affairs. The report is expected to be adopted this April in Strasbourg, at the last plenary session of the current legislature of the European Parliament.

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