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EU Japan VTC

EU-Japan Virtual Summit

26 May 2020

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, held a Leaders' meeting today via a video conference. As shared in the joint press release and in the following video press conference by Mr Michel, the parties reaffirmed their commitment to work together to tackle global challenges. Both sides emphasised the he value of solidarity, cooperation and effective multilateralism in tackling the current pandemic. In particular, the parties looked forward to ensuring global accessibility of Covid-19 vaccination and treatments and supporting vulnerable countries. At the June G7 they will cooperate to promote a green recovery strategy, debt relief and assistance for developing countries as well as strengthening and reforming international institutions, such as the WHO and the WTO.

COVID-19: As expected, cooperation in response to Covid-19 was a key aspect of the meeting. EU-Japan are cooperating to develop a vaccine and treatments with a goal of making them affordable and accessible to all (a global public good). The leaders highlighted Japan’s generous contribution to "the Global Coronavirus Response" announced by the EU on 4 May that aims to raise 7,5 billion and their collaborative efforts for the pledging conference of Gavi in June.

The EU and Japan also signed a Letter of Intent on strengthening cooperation in science, technology and innovation to accelerate research on health. They agreed that the WHO remains essential in coordination against the pandemic, but reform will also be necessary in course of reflecting on lessons learned from the crisis.

Economic recovery and global trade: EU-Japan are looking to collaborate at the up-coming G7 meeting to formulate a solid and quick strategy for a robust economic recovery. Free and reciprocal trade, sustainability, commitment to Paris Agreement climate goals and digital transformation are to be in the centre of the strategy. The parties are also committed to reforming and strengthening the WTO to foster a level playing field as well as making global supply chains more resilient. They also emphasised the importance of keeping the global trade open on basis of WTO and not allowing the emergency measures to tackle Covid-19 to turn into trade barriers. This can be viewed as a message to Beijing and Washington.

Support to developing countries: Debt relief for developing countries, African countries in particular, will be another ambition for multilateral cooperation at the G7. Welcoming the recent EU and Member States commitment to support partner countries by €20 billion, Abe promised to increase support to developing countries to address the economic impact of the crisis and develop their health care systems.

Geopolitics and Disinformation: Proliferation of disinformation was highlighted as one of the geopolitical effects of the crisis. The EU and Japan agreed to work together to provide transparent and reliable information to counter the negative effects of disinformation in accordance with their shared principles of freedom of expression and rule of law.

China and Hong Kong: In the press conference, Mr Michel was asked about EU-China relations and the situation in Hong Kong. He said that the EU and the Member States are working to prepare a common position on China, while firmly promoting European values and interests. On Hong Kong, the was committed to defending the ‘one country, two-systems’ principle and attaches great importance to maintaining the autonomy of Hong Kong.