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EUTW News Press Release
 Dr Cameron's Visit to Taiwan, 8-11 Nov, 2009

Date:2009-11-16
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 Links: EU-Russia Centre

Dr Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU Russia Centre and Senior Advisor to the European Policy Centre in Brussels, was a guest of the new EU Centre in Taiwan from 8-11 November. During his visit Dr Cameron gave four presentations to different audiences interested in the EU.

The first presentation on EU-Asia relations and the Impact of the Lisbon Treaty was to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Institute. Dr Cameron noted that the EU had adopted a new strategy towards Asia in 2001 that was based on six key aspects: promoting peace and security in the region; increasing trade and investment flows; assisting the development of the less prosperous countries of the region; promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law; building global partnerships with Asian countries; and strengthening the awareness of Europe in Asia and vice versa.

In Dr Cameron’s view the results of the past eight years have been mixed. The EU was not taken seriously as a security actor in Asia although there was some interest in the EU’s soft power. Trade and investment had increased significantly but there was still no Doha round agreement. The EU had provided targeted development aid and timely humanitarian assistance but the real driving force for reducing poverty had been China’s astonishing economic growth. Human rights were a sensitive issue with many Asian countries critical of the EU’s alleged preaching attitude. Progress had been made on building partnerships with some Asian countries to tackle global problems such as climate change and pandemics. ASEM, however, remained largely a talking shop. In terms of EU visibility in Asia, the introduction of the euro had certainly been the biggest factor in promoting the idea of a united Europe.

Turning to the likely impact of the Lisbon Treaty, Dr Cameron said that much would depend on the personalities involved and the political will of the member states to see the EU speak with one voice. The new High Representative for Foreign Policy would chair the foreign ministers meetings and be a Vice President of the European Commission. This would give him control of a huge budget and personnel. The new ‘double-hatted’ foreign policy chief would be able to submit proposals to ministers and would also be responsible for implementing decisions. He would also represent the EU at international meetings. This would require someone with considerable skills as well as great energy and stamina. To support him, there would be a new external action service (a de facto EU diplomatic service) including the 130 EU delegations around the world. These changes should enable the EU to be more coherent and visible on the world stage – but only if the member states were to raise the level of their ambitions. David Miliband, the favourite for the job, was recently quoted as saying that the world was heading for a G2 (US and China) power structure unless the EU ‘got its act together.’

At National Taiwan University and at the Cross-Straits Interflow Prospect Foundation, Dr Cameron spoke on EU-China relations. He said that they had developed rapidly in recent years and both claimed the relationship was one of strategic partners. This term, however, had never been defined. There were major obstacles to a close partnership, not least the very different political systems of the EU and China. The EU had imposed an arms embargo on China after 1989 and still refused to grant China market economy status. China was also annoyed at the importance some member states and EU institutions (notably the European Parliament) gave to the Dalai Lama. The current negotiations for a new partnership agreement were progressing slowly as there were major problems on the trade front. There were also disagreements on Africa where the EU attached greater importance to good governance. Nevertheless, the EU remained China’s biggest export market and the EU was the largest investor in China. There had also been useful cooperation on climate change, pandemics and maritime piracy. Dr Cameron dismissed the idea of a G2. China, despite its impressive economic growth in recent years, lagged way behind the EU in terms of GDP per head. A more realistic scenario for the next twenty years was a G3 involving the US, China and the EU.

At Tamkang University, Dr Cameron considered the reasons for the EU’s successful integration. He listed a number of factors – vision, tolerance, political will, leadership, economic compatibility, legal framework, strong institutions and an agreed programme. Most of these factors did not exist yet in Asia. ASEAN had not lived up to its own aims. SARRC existed mainly on paper. Plans for East Asia integration remained on the drawing board. Dr Cameron believed, however, that Asian countries could cherry pick some aspects of European integration (trade, customs union, monetary policy, etc) to suit their own development.

 
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