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Thank you very much, Prime Minister [of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern]. It is a pleasure to be here – literally on the other side of the world. But for us, the European Union, New Zealand is such a close partner and friend. As you say, we share all our values; we also share an interest in the rules-based international order on trade, on supporting the UN system, on fighting climate change, on sustainable development, on everything. We are really, really like-minded partners and friends.
So it is a pleasure to be here and I am sure that this visit will strengthen even further our cooperation, relaunch with full energy our trade negotiations that are going already very well, but also explore all other areas for increasing cooperation between us. As you said, we are living in times where we need to recognise partners that share the same approach. A policy based on values is still something that people need. I think both the European Union and New Zealand are there for that. Thank you for your leadership.
Q: As you mentioned this afternoon, we haven’t had a High Representative visit New Zealand before. What should we read into the timing of your visit here?
This has been an exceptional year for New Zealand-EU relations. It is true, I am the first High Representative visiting, but I am the fourth Commissioner visiting in the last 6 months. And this shows the fact that our cooperation covers many different fields, beyond foreign policy and security and defence. The intensity of our cooperation has grown incredibly. And as the Prime Minister mentioned, we live in times where friends need to recognise each other and strengthen ties, because this is beneficial not only for the two of us, but also for the rest of the world. To recognise that there is a network of like-minded countries that uphold an international agenda based on rules, where difference between big and small nations is not important, but where rules are valid for all as a guarantee of a fair system. I think it is not a coincidence that I am here right now. And our intention is to strengthen even further cooperation with New Zealand.
Q: Does the uncertainty around the US position on free trade and security elevate the importance of the EU as a global leader?
It is not for me to say. But for sure the European Union has its own limits; we are complex; sometimes we are slow; sometimes being slow allows you to reflect on the things that you are doing. But one thing is for sure: with the European Union you will always have a reliable, predictable, solid partner. You might like it or not, but some things we say to our partners, especially in relation to human rights and rule of law, are not always particularly welcome. They are sometimes difficult – not here, here we are completely like-minded. But with the European Union you know what you get. I believe that in times of uncertainty, in times of turbulences, this is appreciated. Yes, the EU is a big and heavy machine and a complicated complex - but complexity is part of life and being complex sometimes helps understanding complexity of problems and is helping to solve them –, but we are definitely reliable and you will always know where we stand. We stand for multilateralism, free trade, international cooperation, win-win solutions and good friendship with countries like New Zealand that share the same set of values and principles as we do.
Q: Could you explain to us, in principle, why the EU wants New Zealand to split its current quotas between the EU and the UK?
I was surprised that I was not getting any UK related question so far. In the context of negotiations with the UK on their decision to leave the EU, we are also looking at the consequences this has on the issues that relate to our relations with third countries and partners. And this relates also to the issue you mentioned. We are determined to address this, first of all, in consultation with our partners - and this has only started – and secondly, in the context of the WTO [World Trade Organisation]. Because when we say we want to uphold the rules-based system, this is particularly true for trade. So we are looking at ways in which there will be nothing less and nothing more, but simply a reasonable way to manage a new situation that is to come in more or less one year's time – March next year. But this is a conversation we will have bilaterally and in the context of the WTO in the coming months, because we want to have the smoothest possible management of the situation.
Q: Could you describe the plans the EU has to increase its presence in the Pacific? Particularly, in collaboration with New Zealand's specifically, as we see more non-traditional donors like China.
During this visit I have discussed with both the Foreign Minister [Winston Peters] and the Defence Minister [Ron Mark] – and I very much look forward to discuss this with the Prime Minister - the possibility of increasing our cooperation when it comes to climate change, the oceans, when it comes to the link between climate change and security - which is something we both recognise as top priority and there is not many others in the world that take this approach - , but also development cooperation. We do a lot in the Pacific, as New Zealand does. And doing things together might amplify the impact of what we do. And also, obviously, on security issues approached in a non-traditional way – it can be cyber, it can be maritime security - we see a potential for doing more together.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I159448