‘EU-Pakistan finalising strategic engagement plan’

Published: March 9, 2019
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European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels. PHOTO: REUTERS

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Romania’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nicolae GOIA has said the European Union (EU) is close to finalising a ‘Strategic Engagement Plan’ with Pakistan and the 28-state bloc would also strive for a ‘constructive and open’ engagement between Islamabad and Delhi.

GOIA, whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, was speaking on Friday at a round table discussion on ‘Romanian Presidency and Prospects for EU-Pakistan Cooperation’ at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI).

He also touched upon the recent tensions between Pakistan and India and said the steps taken by Pakistan and the progress towards de-escalation are appreciable. He urged both Pakistan and India to resolve the outstanding issues through dialogue.

“This is not only the time to calm the situation, but also remove the threats to peace. The EU, as a global network, would not only work for dialogue between Pakistan and India, but also for making it as constructive and open as possible,” he said.

He said: “We are working on a strategic engagement plan, which is in the last phases of being finalised. It would perhaps be done in next few weeks or possibly a month. Once the plan is put into place, it will take Pakistan-EU ties to the next level. We are on the right track for developing this relationship.”

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The EU is one of Pakistan’s largest trading partners and the biggest market for Pakistani exports. Moreover, the EU and Pakistan enjoy good political and security ties, which are governed by an earlier five-year engagement plan.

The two sides have been working on adoption of the forthcoming EU-Pakistan Strategic Engagement Plan. The plan is expected to provide a framework for development of broad-based partnership in addition to enhanced economic cooperation in the coming years.

Ambassador GOIA said the strategic engagement plan would not be ‘time-bound’. The plan would also bring in obligations for both sides in terms of economic reforms, market access, and human rights.

He said there is lot of potential for development of ties between Pakistan and EU as a bloc and individually with member countries and that needs to be fully exploited to take these relationships to the desired level.

The envoy said, the preferential market access and the GSP Plus arrangement, increased Pakistani exports to EU countries by up to 40%. “These are very significant numbers in terms of volume of Pakistani exports to the EU countries and also an incentive for Pakistan to develop ties with the EU.”

The SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheemas said Pakistan and the EU have historically good political relations and it was time to translate those into stronger economic and trade ties.

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