European Union External Action

EU Ambassador Vincent Guérend's Speech at the 1st USNI Annual International Conference on EU Studies

Jakarta, Universitas Satya Negara Indonesia (USNI) , 17/12/2015 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 160704_1

Opening Remarks of EU Ambassador Vincent Guérend at the 1st USNI Annual International Conference on EU Studies

I am honoured to be here at the 1st USNI Annual International Conference on European Union Studies on behalf of the Delegation of the European Union to Indonesia and Brunei. I would also like to congratulate Universitas Satya Negara Indonesia and its Centre for European Studies with organising this landmark event.

As the diplomatic service of the EU in Indonesia, our Delegation works to deepen our bilateral ties with Indonesia and stimulate further understanding between this country and Indonesia. Our relations with Indonesia, political, commercial, as well as cultural, go back over 60 years and are strong. We regard Indonesia as a very important ally.

This relationship was further intensified by the EU-Indonesia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA) that entered into force on 1 May 2014. This agreement established a legal framework for political, economic and trade relations, based on the respect of democratic principles and human rights. The PCA with Indonesia is the first agreement of its kind to enter into force with one of the EU's Southeast Asian partners, which signifies the importance we attach to Indonesia. The PCA reflects a renewed commitment to reinforcing the growing ties between the EU and Indonesia.

The EU and Indonesia share core values of commitment to democracy, development and diversity. One can see this in the strong similarity of our mottos: ''Unity in Diversity'' and ''United in Diversity''. We have both learned from each other how to promote and respect human rights, tolerance and dignity.

The EU works together with Indonesia on a wide range of issues. Every year, we hold a dialogue on human rights in order to exchange views on how to best respect and promote human rights. We also work together on regional integration, counterterrorism and maritime security. Just last week, the EU Director General for Maritime Affairs met with his Indonesian counterpart in Bali.

As the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, Indonesia plays a crucial rule in interfaith dialogue. As a successful democracy, we believe Indonesia can serve as an example for other Muslim-majority countries in the world. With an eye on recent developments in the Middle East and also in the heart of Europe, this role is only becoming more important. We are very happy to see that Indonesia is active in organising interfaith dialogues, and the EU will continue to support this effort with all means possible.

Over the last years, the EU and Indonesia have also expanded their cooperation into new areas, such as peace building and crisis management. A prime example of this was marked by the recent International Conference on the 10th Anniversary of the Helsinki Memorandum of Understanding on 13 and 14 November. The EU actively supported the peace process in Aceh by organising the monitoring mission to ensure the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding and provided long term assistance in the form of capacity building, reintegration and police training programmes, amounting to some €40 million.

The EU was also one of the largest donors to Indonesia's reconstruction effort that succeeded in rebuilding Aceh after the tsunami. The EU contributed €200 million towards the humanitarian response of the tsunami. Moreover, the EU was by far the largest donor to the multi-donor trust fund for long-term reconstruction in Indonesia. At present, Indonesia has a lot of expertise on crisis management in natural disasters events, and the EU believes Indonesia can provide advice and support to other countries in the region.

The successful COP21 in Paris that was concluded last weekend shows that the EU and Indonesia are also strong partners in combating climate change. The conference was attended by President Jokowi, who voiced his dedication to cutting down emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources. In recent years climate change has become an increasingly important element of EU-Indonesia relations.

Issues such as illegal deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires do not only threaten the world's climate, but also nature and human lives. For that reason, climate change features high in the development cooperation priorities of the EU with Indonesia. The EU assists Indonesia with a climate change response programme of € 15 million to help set a low-carbon development path. This includes support for the development of climate change policy, legislation and practice by Indonesian government institutions in Aceh in efforts towards low-emission planning, as well as facilitating policy dialogue and climate–friendly laws in a participatory way through civil society.

In addition, the EU has supported the Indonesian forestry sector since 1994 and continues to assist in dealing with illegal deforestation through the FLEGT programme. The core of this programme is the VPA or Voluntary Partnership Agreement which was signed between the EU and Indonesia in September 2013 with an aim to ensure that all timber products exported from Indonesia to the EU are legal. This means that those products have been acquired, transported and exported in line with Indonesian laws and regulations. In doing so Indonesia and the EU support improved governance, law enforcement and transparency in the forestry sector, promote the sustainable management of Indonesia's forests, and contribute to stopping climate change.

Under the SWITCH Asia Programme, the EU assists the Indonesian Ministry of Environment in developing and implementing policies related to Sustainable Consumption and Production. The EU also finances eight grant projects implemented in Indonesia with a total EU contribution of €12.3 million. They promote good practices of sustainable consumption and production in sectors such as batik, tofu and tempe, rattan, handwoven textiles, legally harvested wood processing, lead-free paint, air conditioners and energy managers.

Of course, Indonesia and the EU also maintain exceptional economic relations. Indonesia and the EU have complimentary economies, which means that we both benefit from our ever deepening economic partnership. In fact, the EU is Indonesia's largest trade partner outside oil and gas, and we are Indonesia's second largest source of investment, with an estimated €3.7 billion. Over 1,000 European companies have invested over €50 billion in Indonesia, providing more than one million jobs in value-adding industries such as pharmaceuticals, banking and manufacturing. European companies are leading employers when it comes to issues such as corporate social responsibility and workers' rights. Our economic ties are set to improve even further when the EU and Indonesia sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement CEPA), a free trade agreement we and the Indonesian government are currently working on.

The EU is strongly dedicated to promoting exchange and increasing understanding between the people of Indonesia and the EU Member States. That's why the EU and our Delegation here in Jakarta work together with Indonesia to increase educational exchange. With the Erasmus Mundus programme, Indonesian students and scholars can now obtain scholarships to study at some of the best places of higher learning in Europe, and European students and scholars can do the same in Indonesia. The number of Indonesian students studying in Europe by the end of 2014 had reached 5,800, three times higher than in 2011 and more than 30 per cent compared to 2013. Currently, there are almost 9,000 Indonesian students studying in Europe. The EU and its Member States provide 1,600 scholarships to Indonesian students every year. Apart from higher education, the EU is also helping the Indonesian government with the implementations of policy reforms in the education sector through various bilateral programmes.

For us, it is an honor that here at the Centre for European Studies, Indonesian students and researchers study the European Union, and we are dedicated to help the Centre whenever we can. I am convinced that fostering understanding between the future political, business and academic leaders of Indonesia and the EU is of the utmost importance to help us bring our partnership further forward. This is also the reason our Delegation applauds events like the one here today. I hope together, we can all work for an ever closer partnership between Indonesia and the EU.

Thank you.

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