During her meeting with a delegation from the European Parliament (EP) on the morning of December 19, President Tsai Ing-wen thanked the parliament for its continuing friendship and support for democratic Taiwan. She also expressed hope that Taiwan and EU member states will continue to strengthen bilateral economic and trade ties, and create more employment opportunities.
The president opened her remarks by saying she was delighted to see Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra visiting Taiwan again, and introducing new friends from the EP to us. Although they are only here for a short stay, she said, the delegation members are sure to experience the warmth and enthusiasm of the Taiwanese people, and their commitment to human rights and democratic values.
President Tsai also thanked MEP Díaz de Mera Consuegra for supporting Taiwan. Back in 2010, he helped pass a motion to extend Taiwan citizens visa-free courtesies under the Schengen Agreement. That not only served to close the gap between Taiwan and Europe, but also made people-to-people interaction more convenient and frequent. In 2017, she said, the number of Taiwanese travelling to Europe grew more than 90% over the previous year.
President Tsai noted that in addition to close people-to-people exchanges, Taiwan-EU economic and trade ties have also continued to grow, with two-way trade reaching €50.2 billion in 2017, a record high.
The president said that in June this year Taiwan and the EU also signed an Administrative Arrangement on Cluster Cooperation, and that kind of cooperation will spur Taiwan's small and medium sized enterprises and innovative industries to greater international collaboration. She also expressed hope that Taiwan-EU economic and trade relations will continue to grow, attracting more bilateral investment and creating more employment opportunities.
President Tsai stated that in addition to these important advances, we are also very happy to see that, based on shared values, the EP has continuously supported Taiwan's efforts to maintain regional stability and security, and contribute to promoting sustainable development.
The EP also adopted resolutions regarding its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) last week that reiterated support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations, the president said, and she thanked the EP for its continuing friendship and support for democratic Taiwan. As a responsible member of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan will continue to cooperate with like-minded countries, and contribute even more to global issues like climate change and sustainable development.
The president then mentioned that the delegation's itinerary includes discussions with university students in Taiwan, and that the visitors would surely see that those students embody our shared democratic ideals and values, which have long been key elements in the daily lives of Taiwan's people. She then closed her remarks by wishing the delegation a smooth and successful stay, and expressing hope that they will visit Taiwan often in the future to exchange ideas.
Also included in the delegation were MEPs Santiago Fisas Ayxelà, Francesc Gambús, and José Inácio Faria.