Canada and the European Union (EU) have a partnership that spans over the course of more than 40 years. It is one based on common democratic values, a shared sense of responsibility to defend human rights and dignity, and social protection.
In late November, Dalhousie had the honour of welcoming Peteris Ustubs, the European Union Ambassador to Canada, to campus to talk about this long standing relationship and the EU as a strategic partner.
The event was sponsored by the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence (JMEUCE). Based out of Dalhousie, the JMEUCE is one of a network of Jean Monnet Centres of Excellence around the globe, and builds on the success of the European Union Centre of Excellence (EUCE) which operated at Dalhousie from 2006 to 2016.
"The Centre is the point of reference for the EU Delegation at Dalhousie University,” says Ruben Zaiotti, director of the Jean Monnet European Union Centre of Excellence. “When the Ambassador or other members of the delegation are in Halifax, we coordinate events on campus involving students and other members of the community. Ambassador Ustubs' talk is the latest example of this close collaboration."
The Ambassador officially began his four-year mandate on September 12, 2017. He arrived in Canada after serving as America’s Senior Advisor to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. He was also European External Action Service (EEAS) Director for West and Central Africa and Senior Coordinator for the Sahel.
Prior to that, he held senior positions with the Latvian government, including Under-Secretary of State and Foreign Policy Advisor to the Prime Minister.
Free and fair trade
One of the main areas the ambassador focused on during his talk was trade relations between Canada and the EU.
The European Union is Canada’s second largest trading partner, with bilateral trade in goods and services totaling almost $96 billion CDN each year. As a result, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) was developed and entered into force in September 2017. It is the EU’s first free trade agreement with a G7 country, and will make business with Canada easier by removing customs duties, substantially improving access to public contracts, opening up new sectors of the Canadian services market, offering predictable conditions for investors, and protecting Geographical Indications.
“CETA is one of the most important economic achievements between the EU and Canada,” said Ambassador Ustubs during his talk. “[…] This is the first ever free trade agreement between the EU and Canada where procurement is part of the agreement. Procurement markets in Canada and the EU are now open for bidding on both sides.”
Facing new challenges around the globe
In addition to trade, Canada and the EU have also been collaborating on a broad spectrum of political and security issues and international policy. This includes promoting peace and security, respect for human rights, the rule of law, and effective multilateral institutions. This topic was also touched on during the talk.
The ambassador noted that there are many new challenges we face on an almost daily basis, including (but not limited to) new actors who are finding their place on the global stage, and cyber warfare. In response, EU Foreign and Defence ministers decided on key steps that will upgrade cooperation and ensure our security, keeping in line with the global strategy.
“The world as we know it has significantly changed,” said Ambassador Ustubs. “[…] With this new environment we’re living in, we need to make sure that we have solid, reliable and trusted partners. I see Canada and the EU as those trusted partners.”
After he spoke, the ambassador answered a wide range of questions from those in attendance. The topics ranged from Brexit, to global security to his thoughts on the NAFTA negotiations.
For more information, visit the Delegation of the European Union to Canada website.
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