MIL OSI – Source: European Union – Press Release/Statement
Headline: Closing Ceremony Speech by Jean-Claude Juncker at the Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF15) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be with you here today. It was in 1998 that I discovered this wonderful country for the first time, and it is good to be back. Mongolia has always occupied a strategic location on the map. For some, the country is a gateway between east and west. For the European Union, Mongolia is an important partner, and we have supported the country’s transition over the last 25 years. I am proud to have made a personal contribution to this effort. A little more than a decade ago, when I was Prime Minister of my country, I worked to secure Mongolia’s status as a country of operations in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. This was a wise investment. Since 2006, the EBRD has supported Mongolia in its transition to a full market economy, and is currently the largest foreign investor in the country. This has been good news for Mongolia and good news for Europe and the region. New investment speaks of the confidence in this country and its future.
Today we celebrate a special anniversary. The Asia–Europe Meeting is now 20 years old. Together we have passed the test of youth, and we are in good shape. Now we can embark on our adult years with confidence and ambition. Over the last two decades, I have witnessed the dramatic growth of trade and investment between our two regions. Millions of people in Europe and Asia have enjoyed a new opportunity to work, trade and learn together. Our human benefit is always the most precious: the gains in prosperity for millions of men and women, and the building of trust between peoples. Together, we can look to the future with optimism. Europe remains fully committed to our partnership with you, and we want to take it further. Our shared ambition should be to do more, and to do better. We start from a position of strength.
I know many of you have questions when it comes to the consequences of the United Kingdom’s referendum. The British people have spoken, and we respect their vote. I have already expressed my regret at the outcome, but now we have to move on. I am confident that we will build a strong new partnership with the United Kingdom. The British remain our friends, and we will not turn our back on each other. We will continue to share common interests both at home and abroad. The EU remains a major global economic powerhouse. The EU 27, with a GDP of €12.4 trillion, is the second largest economic area on the planet. The EU is still the largest trade block in the World. The total exports of the EU 27 are worth around € 5.7 trillion, over a third of the total Global exports and more than two and half times China’s and over three times the US’. The Euro is the second most important global currency, used for around 30% of all international transactions. Above all, the 27 Member States and the European institutions are determined to give further impetus to our common agenda. EU leaders have given their full backing to the priorities of my Commission: jobs, growth and investment; the world’s biggest Single Market; ambitious and fair trade agreements with our international partners; fair and transparent corporate taxation; a European solution to the refugee crisis; and a strong European presence on the global stage.
This is not a moment for introspection. As we face the great challenges of our century – migration, climate change, inequality, poverty, regional conflict and terrorism – the need for coordinated global action is clearer than ever. Today, I want to assure you that the European Union will play its part. We promise to work for a global economy that is fair, transparent and governed by rules. An economy where prosperity is shared by the many, not a privileged few. The business community will play a central role. You are the engines of change and innovation. You have the power to bring our two great regions closer together. But with your power comes responsibility. You have a duty to act as good citizens: respecting the rules of the game, investing in people and taking care of our planet. Public-private partnerships will play a vital role, and we want to encourage them – in our free trade agreements, in our investment plans and in our cooperation on global challenges such as climate change.
I am pleased to see that the themes of your Forum reflect the priorities of the European Commission. When I took office at the end of 2014, I put jobs and growth at the top of our list. They remain my number one priority today. Investment and trade must support this effort. They are not goals in themselves but a means to an end. When millions of our people have seen little or no benefit from global commerce, we need to show that trade can deliver prosperity for all. We need to show that new investment leads to new jobs. This is why our Investment Plan for Europe is so important. If jobs and growth is the first priority of my Commission, our Investment Plan was our first major initiative. The results so far are encouraging. In its first year, the plan has already mobilised 107 billion euros of new investment. 150,000 small and medium enterprises have better access to finance. And we are creating thousands of new jobs in strategic parts of the economy: energy, healthcare, the digital economy, research and innovation. Our Investment Plan is open for business, and I would urge you to take part. Our Advisory Hub will provide you with technical assistance, and an online Project Portal will take you to all the new opportunities. We are working closely with the Chinese government to bring them on board, and I hope that other governments in Asia will follow. But this is more than a question of money. In a globalised economy, the rules of the game are critical. Investors want transparency and certainty, and governments must deliver – not only the clear and stable regulation but also the means to enforce them. This is a central part of the EU’s trade strategy, which we defined and published last year.
Europe and Asia share a clear interest in better connecting our two continents. This is not only a question of building new networks in transport and communications. We must also harmonise our regulations and standards so that people, data, goods and services can move freely. Over the last decade, we have seen how the Internet drives innovation and growth. The flow of information between countries stimulates new trade. But the challenges for government are clear. We must reconcile the economic opportunity with the need to respect our basic values, including privacy. We must invest in our people so they have the digital skills for an evolving work place. We must put in place clear rules to protect consumers so that they develop trust in the digital economy. Europe and Asia need to develop a common understanding on all of these questions.
Let me turn finally to the challenge of climate change. The agreement we reached in Paris last December provides a lifeline – a last chance to give future generations a world that is more sustainable. The real work starts now. The diplomats have done their job. Our prosperity now depends on our ability to change the way we produce and consume. The business case is clear. Companies in Europe and Asia are already changing their business models, and creating jobs that require new skills. Full implementation of the Paris Agreement will need investments of up to 12 trillion euros in energy efficiency and low-carbon technologies. This is the best investment in our future and the best investment in the modernisation of our economies.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to conclude with a simple message – one of partnership. If we want to stimulate more investment in our economy. If we want more people to share in the benefits of global trade. If we want our way of life to be more respectful of our planet – then we need to work together. An economy that is both efficient and fair depends on a healthy relationship between the public and private sectors. Each has its role to play. Each must respect its limits. But the challenges of our global economy demand that we work together. And so today, I call on you, the business community, to play your part. Invest in the sectors that create new jobs. Invest in the skills that our young people need. And work with us to build a global economy that is free, open and fair.