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Goff welcomes enlargement of EU

Goff welcomes enlargement of EU

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed the historic expansion of the European Union to 25 nations following the accession of 10 countries today (midnight Friday in Europe).

“Out of the ashes of a devastated and divided continent at the end of World War Two, the founders of the original European Economic Community have succeeded in creating a united, interdependent Europe,” Mr Goff said.

“For New Zealand, which sent thousands of its young men to fight and die on battlefields there in two world wars, a Europe that will never again go to war with itself is probably the EU’s greatest achievement.

“The EU is already the world’s richest trading bloc and third largest political grouping after China and India. This enlargement swells its ranks to 450 million people, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean.

“New Zealand places great value on our relationship with the EU, and we have been working hard to engage with its expanded membership. Europe is already our second-largest trading partner, our second-largest source of overseas visitors, and a significant foreign investor.

“New Zealand has an important political relationship with the EU. We hold similar interests and perspectives politically, socially and environmentally on many regional and international issues, and keep apprised of each other's views through six-monthly consultations.
“A strong Europe sharing political values in common with New Zealand, which can play an influential role in a multi-polar world, is in our view a positive development.

“The ‘NZ/EU priorities for future cooperation’ that I agreed with Commissioner Chris Patten in Dublin in March, lay the foundation for our work together over the next three years.

“New Zealand has been working hard to create new links with the acceding nations. The opening of an Embassy in Warsaw this year is an important part of the government’s strategy. Over the past year and this year, my bilateral visits to eight of the 10 new states and ministerial delegations led by Jim Sutton and Trevor Mallard help to build new relationships with countries that today became EU members,” Mr Goff said.

The 10 new members of the EU are Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Cyprus and Malta.

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