EU-Japan relations: Foreign Affairs MEPs back Strategic Partnership Agreement

Malmstrom Japan

Cecilia Malmström, Member of the EC in charge of Trade.© European Union , 2018 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Lukasz Kobus

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed the new Strategic Partnership Agreement between the EU and Japan on Wednesday.

In addition to the recent landmark EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement freeing up trade, the political accord aims to pave the way for more joint solutions to common global challenges and provides a legally binding framework to give EU-Japanese cooperation a more consistent and strategic base. It strengthens the bilateral relations and increases cooperation in more than 40 areas, such as security, energy, disaster management, cyber threats, economic matters, education, research and development and combating terrorism and climate change.

It will also, once adopted, facilitate EU-Japan joint efforts to promote shared values like human rights and rule of law, a rules-based international system and peace and stability across the world, while ensuring concrete benefits for citizens in both the EU and Japan.

Opportunity to strengthen citizen-to-citizen interactions

In a separate resolution complementing the consent vote on Wednesday, MEPs welcome the new Strategic Partnership Agreement and “the mutual respect and confidence that were strengthened during the negotiation process”.

They highlight the opportunities and momentum the deal gives to developing cultural relations and to working together on youth, education and sport, amid current low levels of people-to-people exchanges and linguistic barriers. To change this, MEPs suggest investing further to enhance citizen-to-citizen interactions, educational and cultural dialogue and academic mobility programmes under Erasmus+.

The Foreign Affairs Committee also calls for the EU to work together more with countries such as Japan, South Korea, North Korea, the United States and China to secure peace and maintain stability in Northeast Asia, stressing that this is in the core interest of Europe.

Quote

”This is a landmark agreement between two like-minded partners with shared values of democracy and a common vision for global trade and cooperation. We welcome the new opportunities for broad sectoral cooperation between the EU and Japan laid out in the Strategic Partnership Agreement and signal to the world that we remain committed to a rules based multi-lateral system”, said rapporteur Alojz Peterle (EPP, SL).

The resolution was passed by 43 votes in favour, 2 against and 9 abstentions. The recommendation to consent was passed by 47 votes for, 2 against and 7 abstentions.

Next steps

The recommendation will be tabled for a plenary vote in December, at the same time as the vote on the Economic Partnership Agreement. After that, it will also require the formal approval by all EU national parliaments, as well as by the Japanese parliament (The National Diet), to enter into force.

Background

Together, the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement and the Strategic Partnership Agreement will eventually form the world’s largest bilateral free trade deal. They were both signed in Tokyo on 17 July.

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