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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

EU to strengthen ties with Fiji, Pacific


The European Union represents the most successful process of regional integration and remains the richest continent in the world, says EU ambassador to Fiji and the Pacific Andrew Jacobs.


Speaking at the Europe Day celebrations in Suva, Jacobs said despite the difficulties faced by the union, there was much to be celebrated.

“Over the years our union has grown from six members in 1957 to twenty-eight, with 500 million people,” Jacobs said.

“The dreams of our founding fathers have become a reality and Europeans live together in peace and prosperity, bound together by principles of democracy and human rights.

“We have a responsibility to our own citizens and also to the rest of the world.”

Jacobs said the union would continue to strengthen its relationship and partnership with Fiji and the rest of the Pacific Island countries in addressing climate change after the Paris Agreement.

“The EU and Pacific partners were, and remain, leading members of the High Ambition Coalition that pushed the bar high and got results.

“Pacific leaders, particularly from the Republic of Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Fiji, were effective in drawing attention to the plight of the Pacific countries and to the need for action, rapid action.

“The European Union is committed to continue to work closely with the Pacific on climate change, not only alongside it in international negotiations but also as a key development partner providing support for mitigation and adaptation and on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the next big challenge.”

He added that the EU and its member states would continue to support Fiji in its rebuilding efforts after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston.

Meanwhile, plans are in place for a short-stay visa waiver, which will allow Fijians to visit the European Union region visa free.

Ambassador Jacobs said while there was no timeline as to when this would come into effect, the process might take three years.

“There is no specific timeline for the conclusion of such an arrangement, however, our experience with visa waiver agreements with some African, Caribbean and Pacific countries indicates that the process can take up to three years,” Jacobs said.

He said Fiji submitted a request to the European Commission to be added to a visa exemption list in 2015.

Jacobs said Fiji's request was being assessed by the European Commission.

“The commission may then make a proposal to the Council of the European Union (which is made up of EU member states) and the European Parliament to include Fiji and other countries on the visa exemption list.

“If it is agreed to go ahead, finalisation of an agreement is likely to take two to three years.”

He said next year, the EU would take a stock of the progress of Fiji's inclusion in the list of countries whose citizens do not require a visa.


SOURCE: FIJI TIMES

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 8:34 PM. Filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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