MOVING FORWARD

Mexico 2015 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, European Union, on how its FTA with Mexico has evolved and the importance of boosting international cooperation.

 Jean-Claude Juncker
BIOGRAPHY
Jean-Claude Juncker has been in politics since 1982 when he was first appointed Deputy Minister of Labor in Luxembourg. He served as Prime Minister of Luxembourg from 1995 until 2013. In March 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker was elected as the candidate of the European People’s Party (EPP) for the Presidency of the European Commission. After the European Elections in May 2014, he was nominated for President of the European Commission by the European Council in June 2014 and elected by the European Parliament on July 15th, 2014.

This year, Mexico and the European Union celebrate the 15th anniversary of the signing of their Free Trade Agreement. What have been its main achievements?

The past 15 years have been highly beneficial for both of us under this agreement. In just 15 years we have tripled our trade value, reaching $65 billion in 2014. The EU is now Mexico's third largest trade partner after the United States and China. Nearly 40% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico is derived from the European Union. We are the second largest investor in Mexico after the US. In 2014, the amount of accumulated EU foreign direct investments in Mexico reached $145 billion. With all this, our economies have grown increasingly connected to one other. The main achievement of our partnership goes beyond trade, however, as the Free Trade Agreement is a part of a wider Global Agreement covering political dialogue and cooperation. In particular, we have enhanced our cooperation on human rights, drug trafficking, education and climate change action. We have also established several lines of contact at the governmental, parliamentary and at civil society levels, all of which help in fostering integration.

What political and commercial areas should Mexico and the EU work on to boost international cooperation?

We need to increase cooperation in several areas: research and development, renewable energy and energy security, international migration and organized crime, including drug trafficking. Security is a priority for us all, and we must cooperate more on this. We commend Mexico for its decision to resume participation in UN peacekeeping operations in Haiti and in the Western Sahara. We are convinced that we can cooperate and make strides together in improving international security and that in this way we will be able to do more together in crisis management operations. Concerning trade and investment, once the process begins to modernize the trade pillar of our Global Agreement, the specificities will be left to the negotiating teams. There is no doubt that in this increasingly interconnected world—and with our economies increasingly interconnected too--we will aim for ambitious targets that are mutually beneficial. We want to go beyond current WTO levels, reducing non-tariffs barriers, while still ensuring the protection of our citizens. We have to address public procurement and investment protection and we will need to have a new chapter on intellectual property that includes commitments on geographical indications. And of course, we will have to ensure a model of sustainable development that protects workers and the environment.

What will the EU's approach towards the Latin American region in the coming years be and what role will Mexico play in that regard?

We had the opportunity to discuss this thoroughly this month at the EU-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Summit. Europe and Latin America share deep-rooted bonds. Our approach to Latin America will be that of a relationship between equals, where we can take advantage of mutual benefits at all levels and where both regions assume their responsibilities towards one another and towards the rest of the world. We want to focus on building a partnership for the next generation by building closer economic links and reinforcing political dialogue. The EU is Latin America's second trade partner overall, after the United States. We are also the biggest investor in the region. Our stock of FDI there is larger than our stocks in Russia, China and India combined. We are interested in taking the next step, as we want to strengthen our bonds and we believe Mexico is the right partner to help us do this. Mexico plays a crucial role in increasing cooperation and relations with Latin America. It can be one of our ports of entrance to an even more beneficial bi-regional relationship.