Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago

Speech of Ambassador Biesebroek on the Occasion of Europe Day 2019

Port of Spain, 10/05/2019 - 16:54, UNIQUE ID: 190510_30
Speeches of the Ambassador

Europe Day 2019

Speech of Ambassador Aad Biesebroek

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to all, also on behalf of my wife Annemieke, and my colleagues from the Member States. Different venue. As you have surely noticed, this is a beautiful location with the view of PoS, the Savannah and the hills beyond. Reason: Negotiations for taking up office in this beautiful building and hope to conclude a lease in the near future.

Tomorrow is the 9th May. Europe Day. Schuman day. The day we celebrate the Schuman Declaration. This is considered as the critical moment in the construction of Europe as we know it. Those of you who have attended Europe day celebrations in the past have heard about it.

9th May, we also celebrate the centenary of voting rights for women in the Netherlands. It shows how much progress women have made in obtaining equal rights. But we are not there yet. Challenges in many countries remain, including in Europe where equal pay is not yet ensured.

Back to Europe: This is a critical year. By 31 October, if not before, we will see how Brexit will eventually pan out. We should have a decision on the withdrawal arrangements and a clearer view of our future relationship.

But, more importantly, we will have European elections later this month. A new European Parliament shall be elected. In turn, Parliament will have to approve the appointment of a new President for the European Commission who shall be proposed by the EU Heads of State and Government.

These elections are important as they will determine how the wind will blow from Brussels. When the results are out we will know if populism and anti-European sentiments gained a stronger foothold, if we will see a more moderate centrist outcome, or if we move more to the left. Political watchers may take a reading from the recent election outcomes in Spain and Finland.

Some uncertainties at this point in time therefore. But what remains clear is the strong wish of the European Union to maintain strong relations with third countries and international organisations. The Global Strategy in which our international strategic objectives have been formulated is fully supported by the EU Member States. The EU institutions have asked for an increase in the financial envelope for collaborating with our international partners and we remain fully committed to a multinational world order.

Mid-April, the EU published a communication setting out how the EU sees its future relations with Latin America and the Caribbean. The Member States are currently discussing the paper and preparing their response.

Last week at the Morning Brew show with Hema Ramkissoon I briefly touched on the communication. Some of you may have seen it: moving away from the donor-recipient relationship to a full partnership based on a reinforced political dialogue, common objectives and global values. Over the past few years I have already started shifting the relationship. That was one of the reasons why a resident Ambassador was appointed.

I hope the authorities will embrace this opportunity for a stronger and deeper relationship. My team in the Delegation, my colleagues from the Member States and I have started internal reflections on what in our mind the future relationship with TT could look like. What our interest are as well as TTs interests and where we find common ground. Over the coming months we intend to take the discussion to the authorities and other local stakeholders.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Before concluding: back to Europe once more. Sometimes you hear that European countries are so diverse it will be difficult to keep the EU together let alone deepen the relationship. I can say this. If you listened well, I spoke about my country, the Netherlands and I spoke about the EU. I feel European and I feel Dutch. There is no mutual exclusion. I am proudly both. Europe is united in its diversity. This is its strength and its beauty.

Finally, I wish to thank the team from the Delegation and Annemieke for having organised tonight’s event. I wish to thank RGM for so generously having offered the rooftop today.

Thank you for having taken the time to listen to me.

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