EU and Japan launched Green Alliance to join forces on climate action

The full implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement remains priority for both sides

Photo: EU Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel during the press conference on Thursday.

A Green Alliance to protect the environment, stop climate change and achieve green growth was adopted at EU-Japan summit, held via video conference on Thursday. From Brussels, on the line were President of the European Council Charles Michel and EC President Ursula von der Leyen, and from Tokyo – Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. 

The discussions were focused around three main pillars: global issues, bilateral relations and foreign and security policy.

Two years after entering into force of the EU and Japan's Economic Partnership Agreement that significantly reduces trade barriers, European companies already export over €58bn in goods and €28bn in services to Japan every year. The full implementation of the agreement is a joint priority.

The coronavirus pandemic response and recovery, particularly the need to ensure safe, fair and accessible vaccines for all and other global issues were also part of the agenda.

The established Green Alliance is the first such bilateral initiative between the EU and a partner country intended to accelerate ambitious action to tackle climate change, environmental degradation, promote green growth and jobs, and achieve sustainable and secure energy supplies.

Today we reached a new important milestone: the EU-Japan Green Alliance, President Michel highlighted at the press conference, following the meeting. He stated that “it is our commitment to be a leader in climate neutrality by 2050 and this ambitious alliance will boost cooperation in many areas”, mentioning energy transition, business, regulatory cooperation, innovation, environmental protection or sustainable finance.

President von der Leyen accented that Japan is one of the first countries that has committed to climate neutrality in 2050. “They are, like the European Union, very committed to the long-term goals. And we want to work much closer on this topic together. That is why we started the first ever Green Alliance with Japan.”

The leaders adopted a wide-ranging joint statement, which covers the three broad pillars of the discussions. Speaking about the discussions on the response to and recovery from the coronavirus, President von der Leyen explained that both the EU and Japan have made significant contributions to COVAX to ensure access to vaccines for all.

Pointing out that the EU will continue to support the efforts to fight the pandemic, including by exporting vaccines, she specified that “it is a sign of solidarity and of friendship with Japan" that so far the EU has authorised more than 100 million doses to be exported to Japan.

“That is approximately enough to vaccinate 40% of the population and this reflects the very strong bonds between the EU and Japan,” she said.

During the summit the leaders also discussed the digital transition, global economic governance, the implementation of the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement, Economic Partnership Agreement, and Connectivity Partnership, as well as joint work to address challenges and opportunities in respective neighbourhoods, notably in the Indo-Pacific region in light of the EU's recently-adopted strategy.

President Michel underscored that multilateralism, democracy, rule of law is the bedrock uniting EU and Japan. He also stressed that both sides join forces to ramp up Covid-19 vaccine production, protect the planet and reduce emissions, harness potential of trade and digital, and bolster security, especially in the Indo-Pacific region.

We will work with Japan on emerging technologies, critical materials, 5G, 6G, artificial intelligence, data and platforms, and this will boost the competitiveness of both the EU and Japan and set standards in multilateral fora, he said.

EC President von der Leyen made it clear that both sides will continue working "on market access within the Economic Partnership Agreement for EU agricultural products and on the remaining sanitary and phytosanitary issues that have to be resolved".


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