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Montréal, 6 November 2018
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Merci Chrystia [Freeland, Ministre des affaires étrangères du Canada]. C'est un plaisir pour moi et ma délégation d'être à nouveau à Montréal - cela devient une habitude très positive – pour cette deuxième réunion [ministérielle UE-Canada], après celle que nous avons eu à Bruxelles l'année passée, dans le cadre de notre nouvelle architecture de partenariat entre l'Union européenne et le Canada.
As you rightly mentioned, the European Union and Canada are closer than ever. This is because we share the same interests, we share the same values, we recognise that the best way of serving our interests is protecting and promoting our values, which are the universal ones.
We base our cooperation on a cooperative approach, both within our societies, with our partners, and within the multilateral institutions.
Chrystia [Freeland] has done a remarkable job in mentioning the whole range of sectors where, not only we work together, but where we have decided to strengthen our cooperation with very practical arrangements we have made during this almost one full day of work.
We have decided to increase our cooperation and our work in all these sectors, and this brings benefits to our people. It does not only bring benefits to our people but also to the rest of the world as Canada and the European Union together are, I would say, in a certain way the centre of the world alliance to preserve and promote a certain way of looking at the world, which is based on cooperation, on multilateralism, on free and fair trade, on human rights and on democracy.
Our work, be it in UN fora, be it on peacekeeping, on security, on the many different crises we have around the world, but also on economic and trade cooperation, on science and technology, on oceans, on climate change - looking towards the COP24 [24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change], which we will host in the European Union, in Poland, at the end of this month. These are all sectors where the cooperation between Canada and the European Union is crucial.
I would not take more of your time in repeating what Chrystia [Freeland] has already described very well; I would just like to say that this partnership for the European Union is crucial and we are looking forward to continue implementing both our Strategic Partnership Agreement that we have now in place since one year and a half, and also our Economic and Trade Agreement that is already bringing good results to our businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
So, work will continue in a very determined, a very pragmatic and concrete way, keeping as a compass our values and our common position on how we would like to see the world developing in the coming years.
Thank you Chrystia. Merci beaucoup pour ton accueil et pour ton hospitalité mais également celle du Premier Ministre [Justin Trudeau] et des Canadiens, qui sont des personnes toujours très agréables avec lesquelles travailler et passer du temps. Nous sommes – je pense – plus que des partenaires, nous sommes vraiment des amis, et c'est quelque chose de très important dans le monde d'aujourd'hui.
Q: There are increasing reports about Chinese repression of minorities in the Western part of the country, the establishment of re-education camps. What will Canada and the EU do about this going forward?
I can only support what Chrystia just said. This issue, as well as democracy, human rights and the rule of law, is one of the core issues we constantly address with all our partners in the world, and this includes China, in a very direct manner. I think that Canada and the European Union also have this in common: that we never put human rights issues in second place. Even when it is complicated and difficult we always stand up for human rights. There are no exemptions and no exclusion of difficult choices or difficult topics.
This doesn't imply a negative relationship with China. On the contrary, I think that recently we are witnessing a strengthening of our partnership with China, as well as with other partners in the world on different fields, notwithstanding differences we have and that remain very strong on some issues like this one or like human rights issues in China in general terms. It is not a mystery that we have different approaches and we address them both bilaterally with China very openly and directly and in multilateral fora, namely in the UN framework.
Q: Is the EU optimistic about getting a trade deal with the US and if so, what can you learn from Canada's and Mexico's deal recently?
We are always optimistic. President Juncker had a very good visit to Washington in July and a meeting with President Trump that was extremely constructive and brought good results. Now we have launched technical talks to follow that up and implement that agreement that they reached in July. So, the agreement that was reached between the US, Mexico and Canada is an encouraging signal for us. We welcome this even if it does not concern us.
As Chrystia said, we have our own trade agreement that is different and that we like a lot. We are in constructive discussions at the moment with the United States on our own trade issues.