On 25 March 2017 the European Union marked 60 years since the signature of the Rome Treaties, the first step towards a united Europe. Since the birth of the European Communities in 1957, the citizens of our Member States have enjoyed six decades of unprecedented peace, prosperity and security. The contrast to the first half of the 20th Century could not be starker. For long-time foes, European integration remains the most successful peace project in our history.
However, we are living in unpredictable times and the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaties is also an opportunity to not only 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 world is facing great uncertainty: the global balance of power is shifting and the foundations of a rules-based international order are too often being questioned and challenged. The European Union will be an increasingly important player to preserve and strengthen the global order and will step up its role in global security as well.
The EU is a leading global economy, and 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 (WTO), as well as by concluding bilateral trade deals with many important partners around the world – such as the recent CETA deal with Canada. This has allowed EU exporting firms to flourish and create over 30 million jobs.
The EU remains firmly committed to the WTO. We have played a pivotal role in the results achieved by members at the 9th and 10th Ministerial Conferences of the WTO and no efforts are spared by the EU in working towards a successful outcome of the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires (December 2017). We also believe that international rules-based trade plays a vital role for development which is also why the EU and its Member States are leading providers of Aid for Trade.
The EU invests more in development cooperation and humanitarian aid than the rest of the world combined. We were instrumental in planning the UN Sustainable Development Goals and are already implementing them and working to update the European Consensus on Development Policy.
The European Union will continue to be a strong, cooperative and reliable power. Our partners know what we stand for, and can count on that to continue.
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 EU stands for better global rules, rules that protect people against abuse, rules that expand rights and raise standards. It is thanks to our strong 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 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.
Whatever events may bring in the future, one thing is certain: the EU will continue to promote and engage in international cooperation. Along with that follows the EU's dedication to relevant multilateral institutions, including the WTO and the rules-based and inclusive trading environment it fosters.
H.E. Mr. Marc Vanheukelen
EU Mission to the WTO