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Wed, Jul 14, 2004 - Page 5 News List

A key player in the world & a country at the heart of Europe

By Elisabeth Laurin, Director of Institut Francais de Taipei

I am very pleased to address the readers of Taipei Times on Bastille day, since the 14th of July is significant to every human being who shares the values of peace, liberty and democracy, that have been enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human rights and also in the future Constitution of the European Union.

France welcomes the EU new members

France has been engaged in the process of building the European Union from the very beginning. This year, France with its European partners welcomed the expansion of the EU by the accession of ten new members on 1 May 2004, (Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia).

The EU enlargement demonstrates the relevance of the vision of the founding fathers of Europe, notably Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet together with Konrad Adenauer, Alcide De Gasperi and Paul-Henri Spaak, whose resolute will contributed to the launch of the European integration. In May 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed placing the coal and steel production of France and Germany under a single joint authority within an organization open to the participation of other countries in Europe. This statement led to the founding of the European Coal and Steel Community, the first stage towards European integration. Since then, Europe has witnessed key developments such as the creation of Euro or the strengthening of the Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The European enlargement marks one of the most important milestones since the Treaty of Rome, which had confirmed the European countries' determination to transcend their old divisions and build their future together. It gives a new dimension to the European enterprise: the enlarged European Union represents, with the addition of 75 million people in the ten new member states, a total of 453 million, i.e. 7.5% of the global population. As an entity, it covers 3,929,712 km2 (3% of the global landmass) and has a GDP of over 9,230 billion euros, one-fourth of the world's wealth.

EU guarantees a secure environment

The 25-member EU is a unique area of stability in which citizens share the same values. It guarantees its citizens an environment of security and justice without internal borders, and a single market governed by the same rules, thus enforcing both Europe's political and economic power. In its relations with the world, the expanded EU will make a stronger contribution to peace, security, solidarity and respect for human rights.

The first European Union Constitution will be a step forward. It reflects constitutional progress, progress in terms of both efficiency and democracy with a number of provisions aiming at more democratic, transparent and controllable EU institutions that are closer to the citizen i.a. with the application of a double legitimacy principle whereby a majority of States and a majority of peoples -- 55% of the States, 65% of the peoples -- are required to take decisions.

France commits to multilateral trade system

Within this new environment, France and the other European Members are determined to be more united and more open. France is committed to the multilateral trade system which contributes to greater and more efficient trade liberalization and to global rules and regulations. Preparation of the WTO General Council, which will take place in Geneva on July 27th, has become very intense.

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