However, we are living in unpredictable times and the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties is the opportunity not only to reaffirm our commitment to the values and objectives on which the European project is founded but also to take pragmatic and ambitious steps forward.
The European Union enjoys a long standing relationship and friendship with Fiji and other Pacific countries and hopes to continue enhancing this partnership in the coming years. With the Cotonou Agreement that governs relations between the EU and the Pacific coming to an end in 2020, we are at the beginning of a new cycle of our relationship. Since Fiji's return to democracy the partnership between Fiji and the European Union has further strengthened. The collaboration with Fiji and the Pacific is based on shared values, on common concerns and on common aspirations. The European Union reacted quickly to the needs of the Fijian people following the devastation of Cyclone Winston and committed FJD 23 million (EUR 10 million) to help the agriculture as well as the sugar sector. The European Union is ready to continue to provide considerable support for recovery. On top of this, over the past seven years, the EU has provided FJD 111 million (EUR 50 million) to the sugar sector in Fiji. The EU funded Programme “Fiji Access to Justice” was launched by the Government of Fiji in August last year. The five-year project, which is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will enhance the justice system in Fiji and provide more access to justice for underprivileged and vulnerable groups. For the future, the 11th European Development Fund foresees an envelope of FJD 45 million (20 million Euro) to support the agriculture sector and the sugar subsector reform in Fiji. The preparation of the latter programme is ongoing in close cooperation with the government and preparations will be finalised in the course of 2017. The EU congratulates Fiji for its leadership as the first Small Islands Development State (SIDS) to chair a COP. COP23 will have great political importance by demonstrating that the international community remains committed to the Paris Agreement. The EU stands ready to work closely with Fiji towards effective preparations of COP23.
The world is going through a time of great uncertainty: the global balance of power is shifting and the foundations of a rules-based international order are too often being questioned. The European Union will be an increasingly vital power to preserve and strengthen the global order.
The EU is the second global economy. We are the largest global market and the leading foreign investor in most parts of the globe. The EU has achieved a strong position by acting together with one voice on the global stage, by playing a key role in removing barriers to trade as a member of the World Trade Organization, as well as concluding bilateral trade deals with many important partners around the world – such as the recent CETA deal with Canada. This allowed EU exporting firms to flourish and create over 30 million jobs.
We invest more in development cooperation and humanitarian aid than the rest of the world combined. The EU is increasingly active as a global security provider.
The European Union is and will continue to be a strong, cooperative and reliable power. Our partners know what we stand for.
We stand for multilateralism, for human rights, for international cooperation.
We stand for sustainable development, inclusive societies, the fight against all inequalities - in education, in democracy and human rights. For us, this is not charity: it is also a smart investment in our own security and prosperity.
The European Union is the world's largest financial donor of development aid. We were instrumental in planning the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are already implementing them as well as working to update the European Consensus on Development Policy. EU development aid goes to around 150 countries in the world and increasingly focuses on the poorest places in the world. In the period 2014-2020, about 75% of EU support will go to countries which are often hard hit by natural disasters or conflict, something that makes their citizens particularly vulnerable. The EU is the only donor worldwide which gives support in all countries that are fragile or suffer from conflict.
We stand for better global rules, rules that protect people against abuse, rules that expand rights and raise standards. It is thanks to our engagement – the Union together with its Member States –that the global community has set up innovative agreements like the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development. In a world of re-emerging power politics, the European Union will have an even more significant role to play.
A more fragile international environment calls for greater engagement, not for retrenchment. This is why the EU will continue to support and help the United Nations: our cooperation with the UN covers peace missions, diplomatic efforts, human rights, tackling hunger and fighting criminality. The European Union is also a strong and active partner of regional organisations like the Africa Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Arctic Council.
The European Union also stands ready to help those affected by natural and man-made disasters. Humanitarian crises continue to take a heavy toll internationally, and in 2016 the EU allocated relief assistance of over €1.5 billion for food, shelter, protection and healthcare to 120 million people in over 80 countries. The EU has been, since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011, the largest single donor of humanitarian aid to care for the millions of men, women and children displaced by the conflict. Any country in the world can call on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for help. Since its launch in 2001, it has intervened in some of the most devastating disasters the world has faced, like the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the triple-disaster in Japan (2011), the floods in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (2014), the Ebola outbreak (2014), the conflict in Ukraine (2014), the earthquake in Nepal (2015), the refugee crisis in Europe, and Hurricane Matthew in Haiti (2016).
Whatever events may bring in the future, one thing is certain: the EU will continue to put promoting international peace and security, development cooperation, human rights and responding to humanitarian crises at the heart of its foreign and security policies.