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EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation: Speech on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the EP plenary


Delivered by Executive Vice-President for a Europe fit for a Digital Age Margarethe Vestager

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President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,

I welcome this timely report and the opportunity to discuss our engagement with Taiwan. The situation has evolved since the last debate on the cross-strait relations in 2019.

As reflected in your report, the tensions in the Taiwan Strait have increased. China has stepped up its pressure on Taiwan and its military presence in the Strait. We have seen repeated incursions of Chinese planes across the median line and in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. These displays of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity. 

We, Europeans, have an interest in preserving the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. The European Union encourages everyone to engage in a dialogue and avoid any unilateral actions that may increase tensions around the Strait. This is key for the peace and stability of the region and for the European Union’s interests. And we will continue voicing concerns in our contacts with China and publicly, and step up coordination with like-minded partners, such as in the G7.   

As the report says, the European Union has an interest in enhancing relations and cooperation with Taiwan, within the framework of its One China policy. Taiwan is a like-minded partner and the European Union will continue supporting its system of governance based on democracy, the rule of law and human rights, its open society and market economy. The European Union will also continue strengthening people-to-people relations. 

In recent years, exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan have intensified and, today, they cover a broad range of areas also identified in your report. From human rights, trade and economic issues, to industrial and digital policies, disinformation, and connectivity.

The European Union is the largest foreign investor in Taiwan and is attracting Taiwanese investors through initiatives, such as the European Investment Forum held in Taipei. Last year, Taiwan’s investments to the European Union doubled. The European Union is realistic and pragmatic: we want to further engage in respect of European Union’s One China policy.

The European Union Indo-Pacific Strategy is offering an excellent platform to broaden cooperation. Trade and investment relationship with this important partner and technological leader will be deepened. The European Union takes note of the European Parliament’s views on how this could be pursued. We want to build upon the strong economic links that already exist and to further develop existing dialogues, such as the Industrial Policy Dialogue or the Digital Dialogue on Economy.

The European Union is currently assessing how to engage closer to address new challenges focusing on supply chain vulnerabilities and critical value chains, and wants to cooperate on strategic sectors like semiconductors, the “new oil” - as I think many call it - indispensable for EU’s industrial development and digital transition. We hope to see Taiwan as an important partner to achieve goals of the European Chips Act.

While enhancing ties with Taiwan, the European Union also has to address China’s assertiveness and attempts to intimidate Taiwan’s like-minded partners. As pointed in the report, Lithuania and all Member States that find themselves coerced for taking decisions that China finds offensive, they need support and they need our solidarity. The European Union will continue pushing back these attempts and adopt appropriate tools, such as the anti-coercion instrument currently under preparation.

I appreciate this debate and your recommendations. They reflect our common interest in seeking closer cooperation with Taiwan, where our values and interests convergence.

Thank you very much.



Closing remarks

Mr President, Honourable Members,

Congratulations, Charlie Weimers [Rapporteur], for your report and for this very positive reception in the plenary today.

I think that this has been a very useful, but also very timely exchange, because the debate today confirms that, while remaining committed to the European Union’s One China policy, we share the same interest in continuing to develop our relationship with Taiwan. I think that this has been the main message from everyone taking the floor today.

But you also conveyed a sense of urgency. We need to foster our engagement to make sure that Taiwan preserves its democracy, freedoms and open market, and that we defend our interests and values, so that the status quo remains the norm in the Taiwan Strait, with all the potential that you have touched upon today to be harvested.

Thank you very much.

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