The European Union is turning 60 - A strong and reliable partner for Indonesia

By The European Union Heads of Mission to Indonesia and ASEAN

Sixty years ago, on 25th March 1957, six European countries signed the Treaty of Rome named after the capital of Italy where they met. The common aspiration of Europeans to build peace and prosperity through shared destiny was made reality. European integration became a strong magnet, gradually enlarging and deepening to become a Union of 28 Member States. After so many wars and conflicts 510 million inhabitants entered the longest period of peace in European history.

Today, 60 years later, we are among the millions of Europeans to celebrate. Peace, prosperity, freedom and solidarity are at the core of European integration. A legacy that is critical for our common future. A privilege compared to our grand-parents and parents who had to endure WWI and WWII, became orphans and suffered the misery of the Great depression and the duress of post war devastated and impoverished societies! A chance compared to all those who suffered communist oppression in Central and Eastern Europe.

For the first time in history, a continent is engaging in an "ever closer union among the peoples of Europe" on the basis of values of democracy and the rule of law. The European Union keeps developing the highest standards in terms of human rights for its citizens and accountability for its institutions. Today, the European Union is the first donor of development aid and humanitarian assistance in the world. We are proud to have been distinguished with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. This award is a recognition of our efforts for peace and development both within our borders and overseas.

At the same time, the EU is undoubtedly facing major challenges. The EU is criticised by some for an alleged lack of political direction and accountability and for being increasingly inward looking. In reality, the EU has played a leading role on issues like the fight against climate change, the transition towards a low carbon economy, the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or the definition of the 17 „Sustainable Development Goals“ adopted two years ago in the United Nations. The EU is a strong supporter of an effective multilateralism based on the United Nations and international law.

In a rapidly changing world full of uncertainties, the EU has to evolve and adapt to address these critics and best serve the aspirations of our citizens. Several scenarios are discussed and will certainly be at the core of the political debate for the 2019 elections of the European Parliament.

Until then, the EU has a lot on its plate, also to tackle international challenges. As an active player in the G20, the EU has already contributed to international stability and prosperity thanks to a consistent global engagement, an ambitious free trade agenda and economic growth. It is our ambition to continue to do so in the future.

Against this background, the European Union is proud to count Indonesia as its friend. There is so much we share and so much we want to build together bilaterally, regionally in the framework on ASEAN and ASEAN led fora, or in the world in the G20 and in the UN framework. We are actively engaged in the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiation. This agreement, once concluded, will create more growth and jobs for both sides. We are investing heavily in education. We are fighting together for a cleaner environment on shore and in the Oceans. The EU will host in October the large "Our Ocean" conference, after the USA in 2016, and Indonesia will follow in 2018.

Today, with the opportunities offered by scientific progress and so many global challenges ahead, we believe the European Union has a critical role to play in the future of Europe and the world. On the 25 March, it is time to wish the European Union a happy 60th birthday! Long live the European Union! Long live the EU-Indonesia partnership!