By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Just weeks after the first draft of the updated global accord between the European Union and Mexico was approved, EU Ambassador to Mexico Klaus Rudischhauser marked the 64th edition of Europe Day – the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration that united French and German coal and steel production under a common high authority and set the framework for what would eventually become the current 28-member regional bloc aimed at Western European political, economic and commercial integration – with a diplomatic reception at his residence on Wednesday, May 9.
During the celebration, Rudischhauser praised the new accord, noting that it would “serve to broaden trade and investment ties” between Europe and Mexico.
Bilateral trade between the EU and Mexico has already nearly tripled since the original EU-Mexico Global Agreement first went into effect in 2000, he said.
“And in 2017, bilateral trade increased by 16.8 percent over the 2016 figures, to a total of $72.2 billion,” the envoy told a group of journalists earlier in the day.
Mexico and the EU reached an agreement “in principle” on the trade segment of an updated version of the EU-Mexico Global Agreement on April 21, significantly reducing and eliminating tariffs in most key sectors.
As a result of that accord, nearly all trade in goods between Mexico and the European Union will now be duty-free, including in the agricultural sector.
Notwithstanding, some sensitive clauses in the modernized accord, which also encompasses issues of bilateral legal cooperation, human rights and sustainable development, will still need to be hammered out in the coming weeks, Rudischhauser said.
He said that negotiators are expecting to have a final text for the modernized agreement later this year.
The agreement will also need to be ratified by each of the participating countries, so it is unlikely that it will take effect until sometime in 2019.
Rudischhauser likewise spoke about the challenges the European Union is currently facing, including the impending depart of the United Kingdom and the scourge of terrorism that has gripped Europe and other parts of the world.
“Today is not just a day of celebration for the EU,” he said.
“It is also a day of commitment, and we are committed to confronting any challenges that we are faced with.”
Asked about the growing levels of crime in Mexico and the increasing uncertainty regarding the upcoming presidential elections, Rudischhauser said that while Europe is concerned about the recent surge in violence here, particularly against women and journalists, his government is convinced that Mexico has a “stable democracy” and “stable democratic institutions” and trusts that the electoral process will proceed well.
He said that the EU plans to broaden cooperation with Mexico on ways to combat violence.
The modern-day European Union, a vision for peace that rose out of the despair of World War II, is the realization of a proposal set force in May 1950 by then-French Prime Minister Robert Schuman calling for economic integration and a sharing of strategic resources that would “make war not only unthinkable, but materially impossible.”
The Schulman Declaration changed the destiny of Europe and laid down the fundamental framework for the modern EU.
Based on that declaration, Europe was rebuilt out of the ashes of two world wars to become one of the most prosperous, most democratic and most advanced regions in the world.
The EU’s 28 member states include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), formed by six countries in 1958.
In the intervening years, the EU grew in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to its remit.
The Maastricht Treaty established the European Union under its current name in 1993.
The EU operates through a system of supranational independent institutions and intergovernmental decisions by its member states, including the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European Council, the Court of Justice of the European Union and the European Central Bank.
The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens.
The EU has developed a single market system through a standardized system of laws which apply in all member states and the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.
The Eurozone, a single monetary union, was established in 1999 and is currently composed of 17 member states.
With a combined population of over 500 million inhabitants or 7.3 percent of the world’s population, the EU generates a nominal GDP of more than $16 billion annually, representing an estimated 23 percent of global nominal GDP and 20 percent in terms of purchasing power parity.