Delegation of the European Union to China

Speech by European Vice-President Maros Sefcovic at the 2nd Belt & Road Forum on 26 April 2019

Beijing, 29/04/2019 - 03:34, UNIQUE ID: 190429_2

Dear leaders,
• It is an honour for me to represent President Juncker and the European Union at this second edition of the Belt and Road Forum, after a successful EU-China Summit and talks between Premier Li Keqiang and Presidents Juncker and Tusk, where an ambitious agenda was set.
• Connecting people has been an historic and core priority for Europe.
• Connectivity can be a powerful drive for development worldwide. Prosperity has been a key driver of the European integration.
• In fact, to make the most out of the potential that connectivity offers, and increase the impact of our engagement, we need to cooperate bi-laterally and multi-laterally.
• This is the existential rationale behind the Silk Roads.
• The Silk Roads have linked our two continents for centuries. Beyond trade routes, they became hubs for cultural, scientific, technological, and religious exchanges.  
• The European Union has developed these two aspects of connectivity by accumulating experience in developing its internal connectivity, and as well as looking outwards.
• We always share that experience with our partners.
• European colleagues have already referred to the “EU Strategy: Connecting Europe and Asia”, which encapsulates this vision to improve connectivity between Europe and Asia, which together accounts for 60% of the world's GDP and 70% of the world's population.
• In an increasingly interconnected world, together we altogether should all seek new conditions for sustainable connectivity.
• This new strategy is based on four of the EU's strengths: its internal market as the basis of for sustainable connectivity,; its experience of creating networks across borders,; its ability to build partnerships,; and a comprehensive financial framework for mobilising investment.
• This approach of sustainable connectivity is best served when countries adopt sound regulatory frameworks, create better business conditions, are fiscally responsible, and encourage open markets and transparent procurement procedures.
I thank President Xi Jinping for underlining this during his morning address and I thank him for his push for open, clean and green connectivity and for transparency.
• A better- connected Europe and Asia through comprehensive links in transport, energy, as well as human and digital networks, strengthens the resilience of societies and regions. It also creates avenues for a better, low-carbon future.
• More sustainable connectivity will help people to enjoy higher standards of living, while creating more opportunities for education, cross-collaboration, research and promoting cultural exchange.
• This entails social and environmental sustainability, economic viability as well as financial sustainability which avoid prevent countries to falling into debt traps.
• Sustainability, transparency, and the application of international norms and standards are at the core of the EU's approach to connectivity.
• These principles allow tackling the challenges and guaranteeing a long-term sustainable and equitable development for our societies.
• In line with this vision, the EU seeks synergies with Asian partners. We are ready to look for effective cooperation and ensure that commitments translate into action.
• A number of commonalities exist between China's flagship project – the Belt and Road Initiative – and the EU's vision for connectivity.
• While we have disagreements on some issues, the EU and China share have common challenges to tackle and a wide range of opportunities to explore.
• We also have shared interests in tackling climate change, implementing Sustainable Development Goals, and mitigating other global challenges while supporting a rules-based international order.
• Our visions for connectivity can accompany the EU and China in our exchanges on the 2030 Agenda, dialogue in the Paris Club of donors, or through joint projects in third countries to reach these goals.
• Fruitful cooperation is already taking place whether it is in the framework of the EU-China Connectivity Platform or in the G20 framework.
• In line with our principles, we need to continue building on our commonalities and maximising synergies with all partners.
• I wish to end on the note that connectivity is about tapping into global interdependence, and about promoting the flow of ideas. It is about bringing about a resilient, rules-based and effective multilateralism. It is thus more than just about physical infrastructure,; it is also and about promoting justice, social cohesion, inclusion, human rights and gender equality – the fundamentals of the UN Charter and of our values.

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