Speech at Europe Day Reception

Thank you everyone for joining us here this evening, it is a real privilege to host and address you all.

I would like to acknowledge Ambassador Alwehaib, Dean of the diplomatic corps. Tēnā koe Ambassador Alwehaib.

I would also like to acknowledge Ambassador Obermaier.

Ambassador Obermaier, I believe this may be your last Europe Day in Aotearoa.  I want to acknowledge the enormous contribution you have made to strengthening the longstanding relationship between Europe and Aotearoa New Zealand during your term.

In particular, your mahi which helped to secure our long-awaited Free Trade Agreement with the EU.

There has been plenty of commentary about the benefits of this “gold standard” FTA for Aotearoa and Europe. But I think it’s worth also noting that it’s not just a gold standard for us. Our FTA lifts the standard for trade agreements globally. It puts our shared values on the international trade stage. And it shows the world what can be achieved when parties seek outcomes beyond just economic interests.

The EU-NZ FTA brings outcomes related to climate change and sustainability, labour rights and gender. It moves us closer towards delivering trade for all, while also keeping in the forefront our precious natural environments.

This FTA also includes a groundbreaking Māori Trade & Cooperation chapter. This chapter not only achieves tariff elimination on a range of primary sector products of interest to Māori. It also recongises the significance and status of Māori concepts, worldviews, and taonga, bringing them into the international trade arena.

Ambassador Obermaier and her team understood the importance New Zealand attaches to these outcomes for Māori. And they were able to convey this to their colleagues in Brussels and beyond.  These outcomes would not have been achieved without this advocacy. So kia ora Ambassador.

We look forward to the signature and ratification of the FTA as soon as possible so that both New Zealand and the EU can begin to realise its benefits.

The FTA is of course not the only pillar of our relationship. But it does reflect the shared values and shared interests that underpin our broader relationship.

These are set out in our Partnership Agreement on Relations and Cooperation – or the PARC -  which entered into force last year.

Our shared interests and responsibility to protect the environment also stand out in both the FTA and the PARC. I understand we’ve recently held the first climate change dialogue in Brussels, as agreed when President von der Leyen and former Prime Minister Ardern met last year. We also coordinate on oceans and biodiversity, fisheries, and plastic pollution.

These dialogues are enhanced by practical collaboration too. New Zealand looks forward to further deepening our science and research links through associating to Horizon Europe. Kiwi and European scientists will be able to advance cooperation on research in areas, including climate change, energy, and health.

These multiple avenues of cooperation reflect in just how far we both have come, since the Schuman Declaration in 1950, which we are marking today.

The Schuman Declaration was born in the post-war environment. It is sobering that war is once again at Europe’s door and threatens the rules-based order.

Since the illegal invasion of Ukraine over a year ago, we have joined the EU in condemning Russia, and coordinating sanctions and support. Ukraine may be far away from Aotearoa, but the principles at stake including respect for international law and the UN Charter’s defence of sovereignty and territorial integrity, are deeply important to New Zealand.

That’s why Prime Minister Hipkins announced last week further support for Ukraine, including the extension of deployment of forces, additional humanitarian funding, sanctions and support for Ukraine’s case in the International Court of Justice.

We have a comprehensive kete of cooperation in our past and present. And I’m pleased to see this friendship continuing to grow and flourish.

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa (Let us keep close together, not wider apart)

So ngā mihi again Ambassador and your team for your mahi here, and I wish you a joyous Europe Day.

Kia ora.