Ambassador of the European Union to China, Mr. Nicolas Chapuis, on 7 May opened a reception at the EU Delegation to celebrate Europe day and welcomed guests from the EU, China and around the World. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Qin Gang attended the event. In his speech, Ambassador Chapuis said that “we, Europeans, face the future with hope and ambitions for a safer and less unequal world”.
EUROPE DAY 2021 – Friday 7 May 2021 – 16h00
Remarks by Nicolas Chapuis, EU Ambassador to China
Dear vice-minister Qin Gang,
Excellencies, dear colleagues, dear friends,
Distinguished guests, Ladies & Gentlemen,
We celebrate today Europe Day, a feast of unity in diversity. I thank you for gathering at the EU Delegation in China, as we express our gratitude for past cooperation and our expectations for future endeavours.
2020 has tested all of us as the pandemic unrolled worldwide. The European Union faced this disruption with determination and resilience internally, while expanding its outreach and support to partner countries and organisations externally. Member States entrusted the Union with an ambitious recovery plan to build back better by becoming greener and more digital, to ensure the sustainability of our supply chains, and to open new opportunities for European businesses in breakthrough technologies.
No, the Union is neither weak nor irrelevant, and it does not “overestimate” its geopolitical position, actually quite the contrary: we, Europeans, face the future with hope and ambitions for a safer and less unequal world. According to the latest polling of public opinion in all Member States released last week, the image of the EU and trust in the EU have reached their highest level in more than a decade, meaning that Brexit did not impair the ability of the Union to project cohesion, unity and attractiveness.
In the midst of the pandemic storm, the EU and China, two of the three largest world economies, confirmed their potential for productive engagement. We held three summits, opened two new high-level dialogues, on climate and on digital issues, formally signed the Geographical Indications Agreement, and concluded a 7-year long negotiation on the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, CAI – “kai”, as in “kai-fang”, opening. This engagement was the fruit of a high level of unity of EU Member States over the 2019 EU strategic outlook that defined our multifaceted approach towards China.
Regrettably, this unprecedented momentum in our relationship was insufficient to overcome growing differences of view on the fundamental values that constitute the political foundation of our strategic partnership. However, our policy has not changed: we intend to cooperate with China to rebalance the economic relationship, to address global challenges and regional security issues, to our mutual benefit as well as to the benefit of the international community. Meanwhile, the EU has well-known concerns over human rights and fundamental freedoms that it will continue to raise and address through appropriate channels and actions.
As we look forward in 2021, we call for a better understanding in China of what the European Union stands for, so that we can create the political space necessary to further our shared ambitions, while not shying away from our respective concerns with mutual respect.
The Kunming COP15 on biodiversity next October, and the Glasgow COP26 on climate action the following month, will check one another’s ability to raise over present disputes in order to meet our peoples’ ardent request for “making peace with Nature”. If we all join this global race against biodiversity loss and climate change, we will all win.
On the economic field, the post-pandemic recovery equally necessitates global coordination and cooperation. The EU calls today, more than ever, for competitive neutrality and political neutrality in trade and investment, while hoping that the international community will join hands to reform the WTO rulebook to adapt it to the present situation.
Last but not least, we are all aware how much we are missing our face to face encounters and dialogues. The time has come to restore people-to-people cross-border mobility, with the resumption of international travel, while ensuring the lowest possible circulation of the COVID-19 virus. I especially underscore the imperative of getting European students back to Chinese universities as soon as possible.
Vice Minister, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me raise a toast to all of you, in a spirit of long-standing friendship and of EU-China cooperation!