Public Talk on “60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome: Foundations and Prospects of the European Integration Process” Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad March 28, 2017
“Our European project- the EU- is under threat and is being questioned. To counter this, we need a shared vision and greater engagement.” This was stated by H.E. Jean-Francois Cautain, Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, during a Public Talk on “60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome: Foundations and Prospects of the European Integration Process” organised by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) today.
Ambassador Cautain spoke about how the 1957 Treaty of Rome that began an unparalleled process of regional integration by establishing a common market which created conditions conducive to the stability and prosperity of the European citizens. He said that this anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on the future of the European Union by not only looking forward but also by assessing its achievements over the past decades. He stated that the story of the European Union is one of peace and solidarity. Even though some challenges may appear to be overwhelming, nonetheless, Europeans have to take stock of their achievements and look towards a new EU. Solidarity, he remarked, is a part of the EU DNA- it is viewed as a smart investment.
The Ambassador also acknowledged that the present world was confronted by many threats, and in light of this the goal should be to unite and develop the capacity to cooperate in response to external challenges. With reference to the crisis of migrants he stated that the European Union considers asylum-seekers as victims, not as threats, and welcomed the efforts made to ensure that its external borders can be effectively monitored in a systematic manner. He reaffirmed EU’s stance on democracy, human rights, international cooperation and sustainable development and remarked that the EU has been instrumental in putting together the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which we are already in the implementation stage. He also stressed on the need for dialogue and reflection and stated that a united front can help defend common interests in what is now a highly competitive world.
Earlier, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman Board of Governors of ISSI, in his welcome remarks highlighted the many achievements of the European Union (EU) such as the common currency and the visa free zone. He pointed out that Pakistan too has been benefitting from its cooperation across priority areas with the EU such as security and energy. Moreover, he emphasised the GST plus trade agreement that the EU has with Pakistan, as a result of which trade in 2015 reached a figure of more than $ 10 billion.
Later, Ambassador Mahmood, in his concluding remarks commended Ambassador Cautain for his speech and stated that even though the EU is facing many challenges at this time there is no doubt that the idea of the EU remains as valid as before.