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New Zealand - Europe Business Council Newsletter

New Zealand - Europe Business Council Newsletter
9 May 2006

a.. 1] Europe Day - May 9th

a.. 2] EU Flag to Fly on Auckland Harbour Bridge for the first time ever!!

a.. 3] Business Lunch with Rt. Hon Simon Upton, Chair OECD Sustainable Development Committee

1] Europe Day - May 9th

The European Union adopted 9 May as "Europe Day" at the Milan summit in 1985, to celebrate that Robert Schuman presented his proposal on the creation of an organised Europe, indispensable to the maintenance of peaceful relations, on 9 May 1950. This proposal, known as the Schuman declaration, is considered by many to be the beginning of the creation of what is now the European Union.

The Council of Europe was designed to defend human rights, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law, while the Schuman speech was simply proposing a sharing of French and German coal and steel. Incidentally, May 9 is also celebrated in Russia as Victory Day which in western Europe (VE Day) is celebrated on May 8. In much of the formerly Soviet dominated eastern Europe, May 9 is also celebrated as the anniversary of the end of the second world war.

The ideas behind what is now the European Union were first put forward in Paris on 9 May 1950, against the background of the instability and the need to rebuild a shattered Europe. The then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman read to the international press a declaration calling on France, Germany and other European countries to pool together their coal and steel production.

What he proposed was the creation of a supranational European Institution, charged with the management of the coal and steel industry, the basis of all military power. The countries which he called upon had almost destroyed each other in a dreadful conflict, and Schuman's proposal to remove coal and steel production from national controls would make sure such a war could never happen again.

Today's ambition is completely different: to build a Europe which respects freedom and the identity of all of the people who live on this continent. But this ambition is only possible because of the foundations laid by Schuman's declaration

That is why during the Milan Summit of EU leaders in 1985 it was decided that 9 May should be celebrated as "Europe Day".

So 9 May is an annual opportunity to celebrate the EU's achievements and to reflect on its aims: peace, freedom, prosperity and working together. Ten more countries that share these aims joined the EU on 1 May 2004 bringing membership to 25. It was the EU's most ambitious enlargement ever - a truly historic step.

Celebrating our shared identity

Europe Day is an opportunity for sharing European identity. National, regional and local authorities; universities and schools; clubs and associations. To bring people together: Direct contacts are always the most efficient way to allow people of different countries to understand each other and learn from their differences. That is why Europe Day is a day for popular festivities, which bring the citizens and cultures of different countries and regions in personal contact with each other: exchange visits, twin city events, correspondence of all kinds, cultural and festive events illustrating the ties among European peoples, etc., and

Sources: European Commission / Wikipaedia

2] EU Flag to Fly on Auckland Harbour Bridge for the first time ever!!

Celebrations to mark Europe Day on May 9th will commence with the raising of the European Union flag on the Auckland Harbour Bridge at 6.45am on Tuesday morning. A group of six representatives from European Consulates and Trade Associations will climb the bridge at day break to raise the EU flag. This will be the first time that the EU flag has been flown on the bridge to mark the significance of Europe to New Zealand, and will become an annual event. The large heavy duty 6 metre x 4 metre EU flag, blue with the distinctive 12 yellow stars, has been specially custom made in Auckland to similar proportions as the New Zealand flags that are flown on the harbour bridge.

3] Business Lunch with Rt. Hon Simon Upton, Chair OECD Sustainable Development Committee

A Europe Day business lunch will be hosted by the New Zealand-Europe Business Council at The Auckland Club, to be attended by representatives of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, Members of Parliament, local government, exporters and importers.

Keynote speaker at the Europe Day function is the Rt. Hon. Simon Upton. Since 2001 Simon Upton has been living in Paris from where he chairs the OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development. Mr Upton brings an extensive political background to his current role. He was first elected to Parliament in New Zealand 1981 at the age of 23. He became one of New Zealand's youngest Cabinet Ministers in 1990. Between then and 1999 he held a wide variety of portfolios including Environment, Biosecurity, Science & Technology, Health and State Services. Mr Upton was appointed a member of the Privy Council in 2000 and retired from politics at the age of 42 early in 2001.

In his time as New Zealand's Environment Minister, Mr Upton was responsible for passing two groundbreaking statutory codes, the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Hazardous Substances & New Organisms Act 1996. He became a prominent figure in international environmental negotiations chairing the 1998 meeting of OECD environment ministers

"We are delighted that Simon Upton is home visiting New Zealand and can address the Council" says Andrew Williams, President of the NZ-Europe Business Council. "The diplomatic and trade relationship between New Zealand and Europe is extremely important for the New Zealand economy, and his address will provide a good insight into aspects of this relationship, as well as his involvement in the important issue of sustainability of the environment."

The NZ-Europe Business Council promotes the establishment of closer economic co-operation between New Zealand and Europe, with 22 European countries currently represented on the Council. Mr Williams says "The NZ-EBC acts as an umbrella organisation that brings together the many and varied interests of those involved in the major New Zealand - Europe bi-lateral trade. Europe Day is an important day on the annual European calendar."

Vice-President Peter Kiely, and Honorary Consul for Slovakia, says the Council is a focus for the ten new members of the European Union. "Eastern and Central Europe is developing exponentially after years of stagnation under the former communist regime. There are real opportunities for New Zealand to source quality product and vice versa." Mr Kiely said he was committed to increasing trade and investment from Europe which was already New Zealand's second biggest market and second largest destination of overseas arrivals.

ENDS


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