Pacific Scoop

Shared ‘green’ values overcome Europe’s geopolitical distance, says Barroso

European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso delivers his speech on the role the EU is playing in the Pacific region at the University of Auckland. Photo: Chen Bei/PMC

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Chen Bei

When a politician’s audience is made up of schoolmates, he should feel more accepted than usual. That was the case today with European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso.

Barroso delivered a speech this morning at the University of Auckland, just after the university awarded him an honorary doctorate in law.

“I feel at home in the university environment, and I must say I already feel at home in New Zealand too, though I have only been here a short time,” said Barroso in his opening remarks.PIF 40 years logoThe keynote speech signaled a message that the European Union values a closer relationship with the Pacific. It considers New Zealand, an essential player in the region, as a like-minded partner based on many shared values such as human rights and democracy, as well as concerns on climate changes issues.

“The new geopolitical order will no longer be divided between developed and developing nations,” said Barroso. “Commonality of basic principles and long term objectives will carry far more weight in foreign policy than geographical proximity.”

Barroso kicked off his maiden official trip to New Zealand on Wednesday to attend the Pacific Islands Forum, becoming the first Union chief to address the Pacific leaders at a Forum plenary.

He announced at the Forum a $17 million Pacific fund for climate change-related projects.

Key EU role
Barroso told reporters that he will re-emphasise the key role the EU intends to play as the region’s second largest donor to promote sustainable development and in helping mitigate the impact of climate change in the region.

Climate change issues ran though today’s address at the University of Auckland.

“The Pacific region is historically among the least responsible for causing climate change. But it is the first to suffer its consequences,” he said.

Barroso argued that climate should not become a partisan topic. He commended the efforts both the EU and New Zealand have done to prioritise environmental issues on their political agenda.

“The European Union has adopted the world’s most stringent set of climate and energy targets to be met by 2020, known as the ’20-20-20’targets,” said Barroso.

“New Zealand is one of the first countries to join us in tackling action against climate change, namely though its emissions trading scheme, through its pioneering role on renewables, especially hydro and increasingly wind power, and for having championed the Global Research Alliance on agricultural greenhouse gases.”

The shared “green” political interest, among other similar approaches to democracy and human rights, set a fundamental base for a Euro-NZ partnership to address both Pacific issues and global affairs.

He thanked New Zealand for contributing to a “strong alliance” and pledged “an even stronger partnership based on our many shared values and interests in the future”.

“Europe and the European Union will not let you down.”

Chen Bei is a deputy editor for China’s mobile newsroom. She is in Auckland on a postgraduate studies exchange with AUT’s School of Communication Studies and Pacific Media Centre.

1 comment:

  1. A Week of Contradiction (Pingback), 10. September 2011, 9:49

    […] Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission also arrived and had this to say: “The European Union has adopted the world’s most stringent set of climate and energy targets […]