Thu, May 10, 2018 - Page 3 News List

EU lawmaker Gill pledges work on investment deal

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Neena Gill, a British member of the European Parliament, gives a speech at a forum in Taipei on the history and outlook for EU-Taiwan relations.

Photo: CNA

European Parliament lawmaker Neena Gill yesterday pledged to continue to push for a potential investment agreement between Taiwan and the EU and expressed the hope that Taiwan would become a human rights hub in Asia.

Gill made the remarks at a Taipei forum reviewing 30 years of Taiwan-EU relations, which was sponsored by the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan (EETO), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of Foreign Trade to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of a bilateral consultation mechanism.

“The European Parliament has been pushing to increase the dialogue on this, to get some speed on it,” Gill told a news conference on the sidelines of the forum.

She and her colleagues would continue to encourage the European Commission to conduct an impact assessment on the issue to understand the potential benefits of such an agreement and the issues that need to be overcome, she said.

The issue is at the first stage in the EU, and it would require the consent of the bloc’s 28 member states, Gill said.

Although certain steps must be taken before the EU can engage in formal negotiations with Taiwan, both sides have “done a great job” talking at the expert level last year, EETO Head Madeleine Majorenko said.

“It is too early to set a date, but with the support of the parliament, we can push our internal preparations forward,” she said.

“We are bringing 28 member states plus the European Parliament together forward. As you can imagine, that is not an easy thing to do,” she said, calling for patience.

The European Commission in 2015 included Taiwan in its “Trade for All” strategy policy and in September last year announced that it was prepared to launch investment negotiations with Taiwan.

EETO statistics showed that Taiwan is the EU’s 19th-largest trading partner and its seventh-biggest in Asia, while the EU is Taiwan’s fifth-largest trading partner, with the volume of bilateral trade of goods reaching 45.7 billion euros (US$54.3 billion at the current exchange rate) in 2016.

Taiwan-EU relations have been expanded to cover non-trade issues, such as universal human rights, climate change, money laundering and human trafficking, Gill said in her keynote speech at the forum.

“Our hope is for Taiwan to become [not only] a true partner, but also to become a hub for human rights in Asia, showcasing its best practices to the region,” Gill said.

Such partnerships are vital at a time when access to maritime trade routes have come under threat and peace has become fragile in today’s versatile world, she said.

On the issue of regional peace, Gill said that as the EU has partnerships with other key players in Asia, greater Taiwan-EU cooperation would allow the region to become more economically integrated and in turn less conflict-prone.

“I think clearly there is a lot of tension here. Taiwan has been one of the areas where the Strait of Taiwan has seen conflicts and tension around it,” she said.

However, the deeper the relationship among all concerned parties, the more it can help in relation to defusing tensions, she added.

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