Tue | Nov 28, 2023

Jamaica, EU now equal trading partners – van Steen

Published:Friday | May 12, 2023 | 12:47 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Ambassador Marianne van Steen
Ambassador Marianne van Steen

THE BOLD vision of a united Europe articulated 73 years ago and embodied in the Shuman Declaration was the beginning of a project for European integration which achieved its objectives of paving the way for peace, stability, prosperity and stability for the region, according to head of the European Delegation to Jamaica, Ambassador Marianne van Steen.

“Even if today we are facing unprecedented challenges, both at home and abroad, we are proud of what we have achieved. Imperfect maybe, but undoubtedly the most successful regional integration experiment in the world. We managed to enhance economic growth, more social cohesion, and environmental sustainability, not only in our own territories, but, also globally through our generous support to other countries,” she told Tuesday’s observance of Europe Day at 8A Fairway Avenue.

Ambassador van Steen told her audience that it should not be forgotten that the main objective of the European project has always been, is, and will always remain, peace.

“Here we are, 73 years later, facing again a war on our continent. Not between European Union countries, but at our doorstep, an unprovoked invasion. One that was condemned by the great majority of countries worldwide because violating the one and only UN Charter we all signed up to.

“It deeply saddens us, but we have learned that, in the face of this and many more challenges, we are not alone. We have genuine partners who share the same values and to whom we can reach out. And one of these partners is Jamaica. We have built up a solid and evolving partnership over the past 48 years since we established diplomatic relations back in 1975. From a donor-recipient relationship at the start, Jamaica and the European Union have now a much more balanced, equal and mature relationship.”


She said the Free Trade Agreement which has been in force since 2008 has passed almost all its transitional arrangements, and that Jamaica and the EU are now ‘equal trading partners’.

“As a political partner, I am very pleased that Jamaica has not only shown itself like-minded regarding the condemnation of the Russian invasion, but also that its voice in multilateral fora is very often aligned with the European Union’s voice. Over the years, with new global challenges that we all face, Jamaica has become a valued ally on so many issues we discuss at the multilateral level.Tthink about climate change, the empowerment of women, the protection of human rights, on non-proliferation, open trade.

“As a development partner, the EU continues to support the citizens and the Government of Jamaica to reach its own development agenda, enshrined in its Vision 2030. We support Jamaica financially and with technical expertise to help it:

• to become a stronger trading nation,

• to attract more investments,

• in upholding democracy and the rule of law,

• in protecting human rights,

• in its fight against gender-based violence,

• in increasing its citizens’ security,

• in supporting young entrepreneurs getting a loan to get started,

• in health,

• education,

• the country’s digital transformation and so many more areas.

“It sounds a lot, and it is, but we are proud that we can continue to do so,” van Steen said.