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Goff, Patten agree on future NZ-EU cooperation

Goff, Patten agree on future NZ-EU cooperation

An agreement strengthening relations between New Zealand and the European Union was launched in Dublin today by Foreign Minister Phil Goff and External Relations Commissioner Chris Pattern.

“The opening within the next few months of an EU delegation office in Wellington – the Union's first permanent representation in New Zealand – symbolises the strengthening of the relationship, which is critical to New Zealand," Mr Goff said.

"On May 1, the European Union expands from 15 to 25 members. With a population rising to 455 million, the EU will have the world's second-largest economy and is set to become a major political force.

"A much larger Europe challenges New Zealand to ensure it remains a visible and relevant partner. The agreement reached today entrenches New Zealand's political access to the EU and sets out a range of practical initiatives that will strengthen the bilateral relationship," Mr Goff said.

The initiatives include:

A $1.2 million pilot education project promoting tertiary education exchanges involving at least 25 post-graduate students from New Zealand studying at European institutions and vice versa;

Increased cooperation in science, technology and innovation, with a Science Counsellor to be appointed to New Zealand's Embassy in Brussels to facilitate this;

Cooperation on environmental issues, with specific projects to be identified in areas of climate change, renewable energy, and management of chemicals;

Commitment to work together in the South Pacific on development cooperation, preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention;

Exploration of the scope for a regional agreement on air services between the European Commission and New Zealand, Australia and Singapore;

Regular dialogue on fisheries to ensure sustainable management and to prevent illegal fishing;

Agreement to work closely together in the WTO to strengthen the multilateral trading system and to achieve a successful conclusion to the Doha negotiations;

Commitment to work towards a solution regarding visa-free entry by New Zealand visitors to the Schengen area (comprising the current 15 EU members minus Ireland and the United Kingdom).

Regular human rights consultations to promote our shared commitment to democratic values, which have commenced this year;

Availability of internships in the European Commission and Parliament for young New Zealanders;

Reciprocal visits between the New Zealand and European Parliaments;

"The agreement reached today represents significant progress in setting out priorities for future cooperation with Europe and ensuring that New Zealand's trading, political and other interests are preserved and promoted in our dealings with a much larger Europe," Mr Goff said.

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