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Foreign ministers discussed the situation in Syria, ahead of the Brussels Conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region on 4-5 April 2017. The Council adopted the EU strategy for Syria.
The EUVP is jointly sponsored and administered by the European Parliament and the European Commission and has been in operation since 1974. New Zealand and Australia have participated in the programme since 1983 sending over 138 visitors to Europe during that time.
On 17 February Ambassador Savage attended the launch of the Treaty Times 30 project, hosted by the Governor-general Her Excellency The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy.
Prime Minister Bill English met with EU leaders in Brussels for the first time on 10 January 2017. Along with meeting President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister English met President of the Council of the European Union, Donald Tusk. They reviewed the bilateral relations between the EU and New Zealand and discussed a number of issues, including the prospect of a free trade agreement between the European Union and New Zealand.
The EU has a longstanding policy promoting respect for human rights in all third countries. In this regard, the EU Guidelines on Death Penalty adopted in 2013 state that the EU will continue its long-standing campaign against the death penalty.
In a recent development, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU have decided to further strengthen these rules. This new legislation was signed on 23 November.