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AFR ‘The Danish EU Presidency and Japan’, 9. juli 2002

On July 1 Denmark assumed the Presidency of the European Union. Today I will meet Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Tokyo at the 11th EU-Japan Summit together with the President of the European Commission Romano Prodi. The EU-Japan Summit has taken place annually since 1991. It is an important occasion to promote EU-Japan cooperation and share views in a wide range of areas.

It is no coincidence that I travel to Japan at the very beginning of the Danish EU Presidency. It is a testimony to the growing importance of European relations with Asia and Japan. And it is a testimony to the priority that Denmark as Presidency of the European Union will give to external relations and global responsibilities. In September Denmark will host the Fourth Europe-Asia Meeting (ASEM 4) in Copenhagen.

EU-Japan relations

EU-Japan relations are excellent. We have a flourishing trade, investments both ways are important and exchanges on the cultural front continue to rise. EU-Japan co-operation in the political field has also been strengthened significantly over the past couple of years. But we can further develop and enhance our co-operation. We must continue to explore all possibilities for strengthening the EU-Japan partnership.

Europe and Japan share important values. We build our societies on democracy and respect for human rights. Internally as well externally we can boast of a high degree of social and environmental responsibility. Japan and the EU provide approximately three quarters of total development assistance worldwide. We share the belief in the benefit of international co-operation in the United Nations. Indeed, Japan and the EU were among the first to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Not only do we share values and a vision for a better world. We also act on these values.

The adoption of the EU-Japan Action Plan in December last year was an important step in the direction of a closer political as well as economic and cultural co-operation between Japan and the European Union. The EU-Japan Action Plan is a strong framework for EU-Japan co-operation in the areas of peace and security, economy and trade, global challenges as well as popular and cultural relations.

Since the adoption of the Action Plan, we have made progress in a number of fields, including disarmament, arms control and counter-terrorism. Most importantly, we worked closely during the successful Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan in Tokyo in January.

The EU-Japan co-operation yields a great potential and the Danish EU Presidency will do what we can to develop it even further over the coming six months.

Danish EU Presidency

As Presidency of the European Union we are also facing other important tasks. The Presidency will be the greatest foreign policy task for Denmark in many years.

We have one very clear main task: The enlargement of the European Union. The Danish Presidency hopes to complete the enlargement negotiations with up to 10 new Member States. The EU accession conditions were defined in Copenhagen in 1993. Now the enlargement negotiations may be brought to completion in Copenhagen in 2002. We can thus close the circle from Copenhagen to Copenhagen. We have a historic and moral obligation to seize this opportunity to consolidate peace and create the basis for progress across the entire Continent.

I am happy to have been entrusted with this historic task. For more than ten years these countries have gone through hard work to transform former communist structures. Now they are getting ready to enter the family of democratic and market based societies. We must receive them and create 'One Europe'. To the benefit of all Europeans. And to the benefit of Japan and other democratic and market based societies. Our family of democratic nations will be enlarged. We will all benefit from the increased trade, security, international co-operation and cultural exchange that naturally will follow.

Besides the enlargement process, the Danish Presidency will work for greater freedom, security and justice. The Danish Presidency will give priority to combat global terrorism, trafficking in human beings and child pornography. And we will strengthen our co-operation on asylum, immigration and border control. We attach great importance to the development of strong international co-operation in this area. And we will of course invite Japan to join us in our efforts.

We will also give priority to sustainable development. We must continue to develop our societies: economically, socially and environmentally. And we will review the policies of agriculture and fisheries in Europe.

In the increasingly globalised and interdependent world it is crucial that the EU also shoulder its global responsibility. We therefore have to strengthen the EU's common foreign and security policy. The Danish Presidency is prepared to bring this issue forward. In this endeavour, we will of course seek close co-operation with Japan and other like-minded countries.

At the fourth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 4) in September 23-24 in Copenhagen, leaders of Asian and European nations will have the opportunity to discuss issues of common interest. The fight against international terrorism will figure high on our agenda. We must not succumb to the attempts by ruthless terrorists to divide the international community. We will also engage in a dialogue on economic issues and on cultures and civilizations. I look forward to hosting ASEM 4 and to co-operate closely with Japan and Prime Minister Koizumi as a key partner in securing a successful Summit.

The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg will be another major event under the Danish Presidency. The Summit represents an important opportunity for focused EU-Japan co-operation. The Summit covers areas where both Japan and the EU have demonstrated visions and ability to act.

In Johannesburg, we must work to achieve a global deal based on the successful results in Doha and Monterrey. We must secure a sustainable world for this generation and for the future. The developed countries must promise to take steps to open their markets, while also offering development assistance to the developing nations. At the same time it must be recognised that good governance is essential for sustainable development. It is a precondition for attracting the necessary investments that are required for sustainable development. Finally, we must all take steps to secure that economic growth goes hand in hand with protection and improvement of our environment.

EU-Japan relations are rich. The potential for enhanced cooperation is obvious. The friendship between Japan and Europe is old. Over 450 years have passed since Europeans for the first time reached Japanese soil. Ever since goods and values have been a very important part in the exchange between Japan and Europe. It is my sincere hope and ambition to bring this exchange further by deepening our economic and political relationship. The EU-Japan Summit today will be an important step forward in this endeavour.