Cel­e­brat­ing Europe Day And What It Stands For

SCHUMAN DECLARATION: UNITE AND RENDER WAR IN CONTINENT UNTHINKABLE ‘Sixty-six years later, Robert Schuman’s mes­sage of peace and unity is as rel­e­vant as ever’

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - By An­drew Ja­cobs An­drew Ja­cobs is the European Union’s am­bas­sador/head of del­e­ga­tion to Fiji and the Pa­cific. This is his ad­dress for Europe Day, to­day. Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

To­day is May 9 and the European Union is cel­e­brat­ing Europe Day world­wide. On this day in 1950 French For­eign Min­is­ter Robert Schuman, one of the found­ing fa­thers of the EU, made the fa­mous ‘Schuman Declaration’, in which he called on the na­tions of Europe to unite and render war on our continent unthinkable. Robert Schuman’s ap­peal to over­come age-old di­vi­sions just five years af­ter the World War II laid the foun­da­tions of what has be­come the European Union.

Sixty-six years later, Robert Schuman’s mes­sage of peace and unity is as rel­e­vant as ever.

For the first time in our his­tory, the European Union faces an ex­is­ten­tial threat. This is not sim­ply about ter­ror­ism: we have the tools to de­feat the ter­ror­ist threat and pre­vent rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

This is cer­tainly not about mi­gra­tion: a Union of 500 mil­lion peo­ple can man­age the cur­rent flows, pro­tect lives and build strong part­ner­ships with other coun­tries, in our re­gion and be­yond. The European Union is at risk when we build walls, in­stead of tear­ing them down. It is at risk when we be­have as part­time Euro­peans – we call for help when we need it, but we are not ready to help. In this tough mo­ment in the his­tory of the world, the world needs a strong Europe more than ever. We have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to our own cit­i­zens, and also to the Pa­cific. In­deed, the European Union has a long-stand­ing re­la­tion­ship and friend­ship with Fiji and other Pa­cific coun­tries which we cher­ish. Since Europe Day last year, the part­ner­ship be­tween Fiji and the European Union has fur­ther strength­ened. European Com­mis­sioner for De­vel­op­ment and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Neven Mim­ica vis­ited Fiji and signed an agree­ment with Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama on a ma­jor new de­vel­op­ment co-operation pro­gramme.

The first high-level Fiji-EU po­lit­i­cal di­a­logue for many years took place in Suva, and Fiji hosted a very suc­cess­ful as­sem­bly in­volv­ing par­lia­men­tar­i­ans from the European Union and a large num­ber of coun­tries in African, the Caribbean, and the Pa­cific. In ad­di­tion the European Union opened a large new of­fice in Suva, from which it man­ages de­vel­op­ment co-operation projects all over the Pa­cific. Our part­ner­ship with Fiji and the Pa­cific is based on our shared val­ues, on com­mon con­cerns and on com­mon as­pi­ra­tions. In the Pa­cific we are an im­por­tant trad­ing part­ner, a re­li­able in­vestor, a gen­er­ous donor of hu­man­i­tar­ian and de­vel­op­ment aid, and a loyal ally in a fight against cli­mate change. The European Union re­acted quickly to the needs of Fi­jian peo­ple fol­low­ing the dev­as­ta­tion of Cy­clone Win­ston, and will con­tinue to pro­vide con­sid­er­able sup­port for re­cov­ery. I of­fer again our deep­est sym­pa­thy to those who lost loved ones and whose lives and liveli­hoods were shat­tered. Three weeks ago, 175 coun­tries signed the Paris Agree­ment on Cli­mate Change at the UN High-Level Sign­ing Cer­e­mony in New York.

15 coun­tries de­posited their in­stru­ments of rat­i­fi­ca­tion on the same day send­ing a sig­nal to the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity on the para­mount im­por­tance of this Agree­ment.

Re­mark­ably, six out of th­ese 15 in­spir­ing coun­tries were Pa­cific Is­land States, in­clud­ing Fiji. The Pa­cific has done its share, now it is for the de­vel­oped coun­tries to de­liver.

A key ob­jec­tive of the EU for 2016 is to main­tain this po­lit­i­cal mo­men­tum and al­liance with the Pa­cific na­tions as we start mov­ing to­wards the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Paris deal.

De­spite the voices call­ing for the clo­sure of the European bor­ders as an an­swer to waves of refugees and mi­grants, we con­tinue to open our doors to the Pa­cific na­tions. Re­cently the EU signed short-stay visa waiver Agree­ments with Samoa, Tonga and Palau al­low­ing their na­tion­als to visit Schen­gen Area visa free. Sev­eral other Pa­cific is­land States will join this group later this year. On Europe Day we cel­e­brate not only Europe and all the achieve­ments we must pre­serve, but also our strong part­ner­ships around the world, in­clud­ing with our friends in the Pa­cific. The peo­ple of the European Union and the Pa­cific share chal­lenges, ideals and am­bi­tions. Work­ing to­gether we can help make the world a bet­ter place for our chil­dren. Happy Europe Day.

Our part­ner­ship with Fiji and the Pa­cific is based on our shared val­ues, on com­mon con­cerns and on com­mon as­pi­ra­tions.

An­drew Ja­cobs

European Union am­bas­sador to Fiji and the Pa­cific

One of the found­ing mem­bers of the the European Union, French For­eign Min­is­ter then, Robert Schuman.

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