European Commission President von der Leyen and Prime Minister of New Zealand Ardern met in Brussels on 30 June 2022. The encounter provided an opportunity to reaffirm that the European Union and Aotearoa New Zealand are longstanding partners with shared democratic values and interests, aligned positions on key international and regional issues, strong people-to-people ties, and a growing and mutually-beneficial trade and economic relationship. The leaders reaffirmed New Zealand’s and the European Union’s strong commitment to multilateralism and the rules based international order.
The leaders resolutely condemned Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine and reaffirmed their unwavering support to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. They urged Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine. They also called on Belarus to stop facilitating and supporting Russia’s war of aggression. They condemned the widespread and credible reports of atrocities being committed by Russian forces, and stressed the need for ensuring accountability for the suffering and destruction in Ukraine. They called on Russia to allow immediate humanitarian access and the safe passage of all civilians concerned. They also called on Russia to immediately allow the safe return of Ukrainian individuals forcibly removed to Russia. They recalled the close coordination between the EU and New Zealand on the adoption of unprecedented sanctions against Russia and Belarus, on the diplomatic response in multilateral organisations, and on other forms of assistance to help Ukraine. They confirmed their commitment to address, together with like-minded partners, Russia’s disinformation as well as the global consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including food insecurity. In this respect, the EU and New Zealand are committed to working together to keep food and agricultural markets open and well-functioning and to strengthen global supply chains.
The leaders announced the conclusion of negotiations of a comprehensive trade agreement that includes a number of ‘firsts’. The agreement will deliver important economic, commercial and broader benefits to consumers, small and large businesses and farmers in New Zealand and in the European Union as our economies deal with the ongoing impact of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine, and the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The leaders welcomed the agreement’s ground-breaking commitments on trade and sustainable development, including on the Paris Climate Agreement, core labour rights, gender equality and fisheries subsidies. The two leaders also welcomed the inclusion of a new chapter on Māori Trade and Economic Cooperation. They rated highly the liberalisation of environmental goods and services related to climate change mitigation, as well as the unprecedented cooperation arrangements to improve the sustainability of our respective food systems. They committed to completing all relevant domestic procedures without delay, so that the agreement can be signed, ratified and enter into force as soon as possible. They confirmed their support to strengthening and reforming the World Trade Organization as a central pillar of the global economic system.
The leaders welcomed the completion of the ratification procedure of the EU-New Zealand Partnership Agreement on Relations and Cooperation and looked forward to its imminent application to strengthen partnership on a broad range of areas, including climate change, international peace and security, research and innovation.
The leaders reconfirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the commitments made at COP26 in Glasgow, in order to keep the Paris Agreement targets within reach and to limit global warming to 1.5°C. They underscored the importance of accelerating immediately the development of concrete policies and measures at national level. To this end, they pledged to deepen and elevate the status of their dialogue and cooperation on climate change, including on climate finance and support for the adaptation and energy transition needs of vulnerable Pacific Island Countries, and to consider collaborating on support to Just Energy Transition Partnerships in Asian countries. They agreed to take joint work forward on climate change initiatives, such as the High Ambition Coalition and the Global Methane Pledge, as well as on emissions trading systems and the environmental integrity of carbon markets. They stressed the importance of tackling the biodiversity crisis and reconfirmed their commitment to reach an ambitious and transformational post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at COP15.
The leaders affirmed the importance of an open, inclusive, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific. Further to the EU’s adoption of its Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, the leaders undertook to step up coordinated engagement with the region. Both leaders stressed the importance of ASEAN centrality in the region and of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which uphold principles such as the rule of law, openness, freedom, transparency and inclusiveness.
Recognising that climate change is the single greatest threat to the livelihood and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific, the leaders confirmed that the EU and New Zealand are committed to promote a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and resilient Pacific. In line with Pacific-led priorities, they are committed to scale up coordination and respective efforts on climate action, good governance, human rights, sustainable development and security-related challenges, including in the context of the EU’s Global Gateway investment strategy. They affirmed their readiness to share expertise and to provide assistance to affected countries and implement approaches to avert, minimise and address loss and damage associated with climate change in the region.
The leaders confirmed their commitment to cooperate on agriculture and announced that the EU and New Zealand will elevate their existing cooperation in an annual International Strategic Agriculture Dialogue focusing on shared challenges in agricultural trade and sustainability. In this respect, they pledged to share experiences and best practices in this critical area of climate action and to provide support to third countries to enhance mitigation of their agriculture emissions while improving food security.
The leaders confirmed that the EU and New Zealand would continue to cooperate on ocean governance to ensure the protection and sustainable use of oceans and fisheries, including to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing wherever it occurs, as well as on seabird bycatch mitigation, biodiversity in the high seas, the establishment of new Marine Protected Areas in the Southern Ocean, and on regulating harmful fisheries subsidies. Leaders welcomed the new WTO Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, and affirmed their commitment to complete the outstanding disciplines ahead of the WTO’s Thirteenth Ministerial Conference.
The leaders acknowledged the excellent cooperation on Research & Innovation between the EU and New Zealand and welcomed the conclusion of exploratory talks between the European Commission and New Zealand on the country’s association to Horizon Europe, the EU’s Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The leaders shared their expectation to see the formal negotiations launched this European autumn and concluded swiftly.
With regard to COVID-19, Prime Minister Ardern acknowledged the EU’s role as the most important supplier of vaccines to New Zealand. Both leaders pledged to continue to advocate for equitable global access to and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. They also confirmed their commitment to ongoing negotiations on a new legal instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, with an empowered World Health Organization at its core.
Renewing their support to the common fight against crime and terrorism, the leaders welcomed the signature today of an Agreement on the exchange of personal data between Europol and New Zealand. The agreement will strengthen law enforcement cooperation, while guaranteeing a high level of protection of fundamental rights, including data protection. Europol will be able to support the New Zealand authorities on concrete investigations, notably in fighting terrorism, organised crime, child sexual abuse and cybercrime.
The leaders recalled that the EU and New Zealand promote and defend free, open, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure internet, the ethical and responsible deployment of digital and emerging technologies, and the realisation of human rights online, including high standards of privacy and protection of personal data. They pledged the EU and New Zealand would continue cooperation to advance responsible state behaviour in cyberspace, to address disinformation and to promote democratic resilience online.
The leaders confirmed that the EU and New Zealand remain committed to addressing threats posed by terrorism and violent extremism online. They intend to continue improving their crisis response capabilities, addressing the drivers of radicalisation, including through improved transparency and management of algorithmic systems, and building an effective and diverse multistakeholder community of government, civil society and tech companies under the Christchurch Call. They look forward to attending the Christchurch Call Leaders’ Summit later this year, where they expect to make further progress on these issues.