Sunday

20th Jan 2019

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

  • 'We are sending a clear message that you can count on us, EU and Japan,' said Donald Tusk (r), after he and Jean-Claude Juncker met with Japan's Shinzo Abe

"We also have many other friends in the world," the EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini had said on Monday, after US president Donald Trump had designated the EU as a "foe".

The EU stressed that point on Tuesday (17 July) with the signing of a series of agreements with Japan, another puzzled US ally, one day after expressing common interest with China.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The presidents of the European Commission and Council, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, signed with Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe the biggest EU trade deal ever, as well as an agreement on data transfer and a strategic partnership agreement covering cybercrime and energy security.

"Politically, it's a light in the increasing darkness of international politics," Tusk said.

"Today is a good day not only for all the Japanese and Europeans but for all reasonable people of this world who believe in mutual respect and cooperation," Tusk said.

'Clear message'

Pointedly referring to Trump without actually naming him, Tusk insisted that the EU-Japan trade deal was "an act of enormous strategic importance for the rules-based international order, at a time when some are questioning this order."

"We are sending a clear message that you can count on us, EU and Japan," he insisted. "We are predictable, responsible and will continue defending a world based on rules, on freedom, on transparency and common sense."

For the EU as well as for Japan, Trump's trade policy - and in particular tariffs on steel and aluminium and threats of tariffs on cars - are a sign of the weakening of the rules-based world order they want to maintain.

The conclusion of the trade agreement was sped up last year - putting aside the controversial issue of dispute settlements - as a reaction to Trump's election and first questioning of the international order.

"Trade is about more than tariffs and barriers. It is about values, principles and finding win-win solutions for all those concerned," Juncker insisted on Tuesday. Juncker himself will meet Trump in Washington on July 25, the commission announced on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Japan will remove duties on almost all EU agri-food products and recognise EU geographical indicators.

The EU and Japan will align their standards for cars, and a textiles-labelling system. Market access will be easier for services, and EU companies will have access to public procurements in 48 Japanese cities.

Demonstrate leadership

Both sides hope that the trade deal will increase exchanges between two economic powers that represents almost 30 percent of the global GDP, and set standards that the US would have to follow.

The same logic applies to the agreement that recognises the European and Japanese personal data protection systems as equivalent.

The EU and Japan want to "demonstrate their leadership, in shaping global standards based on a high level of protection of personal data", they said in a joint statement.

As with China on Monday, the EU also insisted with Japan on the "crucial role" of maintaining the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the basis of the multilateral trading system, with a commitment to reform it.

The political dimension of the EU-Japan alliance "is even more visible and significant today than two months ago," Tusk pointed out.

"I'm pretty sure you know what I mean," he added, referring to the contentious G7 summit in Canada in June and Trump's meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin on Monday.

EU and Japan agree on free trade

Japanese prime minister and EU leaders to endorse major trade deal on Thursday in anti-protectionist message to Trump.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Analysis

China's 2019 growth outlook

As China's growth seems to be slowing, some observers see the country amid what the New York Times called a "severe downturn". As they mistake China's secular deceleration with cyclical fluctuations, they miss the rapid increase in Chinese living standards.

Opinion

The Azov crisis will backfire

Vladimir Putin's nightmare of Petro Poroshenko's re-election will be even certain as Ukrainians rally around the flag. Next March's election is not just to elect a new president but also a commander-in-chief to deal with five more years of Putin.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us