Europe Day 2016
Written by Administrator
Monday, 02 May 2016 00:00
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On Monday, May 2, 2016, EUCCAN celebrated their annual Europe Day reception at the Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Toronto. More than 120 guests from the Canadian and European business community, as well as high ranking government representatives and various Consul Generals of European countries enjoyed the opportunity to network and connect. Guests of honour included Karsten Mecklenburg, Head of the Trade and Economic Section of the European Union to Canada, and Dr. Tony Ruprecht, Former Minister of Citizenship-Multiculturalism.

Europe Day celebrates French foreign minister Robert Schuman’s 1950 announcement of uniting French and German iron and steel producers under a common agreement to which other European countries would be invited to join. The original six signatories of the resultant European Coal and Steel Community Treaty were France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg. The actual treaty expanded upon more basic terms proposed by another French government official, Jean Monnet. The so-called Inner Six later widened the scope of the original agreement to include other sectors, which laid the foundation for the creation of the European Common Market, the forerunner of today’s 28-member European Union.

In his opening remarks, Thomas Beck, President of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Toronto and President & CEO of the Canadian German Chamber of Industry and Commerce Inc. noted that the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union would likely be signed later in the fall. The next phase will be ratification of the final terms.

Karsten Mecklenburg
, Head of the Trade and Economic Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Canada stated that Europe is back on track economically with robust annual GDP growth among its members. He reminded the audience of the benefits and advantages for Canadian exporters of doing business with the EU – a market of 500 million consumers spread across 28 member countries. This is larger than the population of Canada’s NAFTA partners, the US and Mexico but smaller than the 800 million customers in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement currently under discussion.  Mecklenburg pointed out the EU’s advantage of being single integrated marketplace while the TPP consists of 12 member states each with its own business and trade rules and regulations.

At the same time, Mecklenburg outlined that many of the EU’s basic ideals – the free movement of goods, people and capital between and among its members are currently under intense pressure. These include the upcoming United Kingdom national referendum on whether to stay in the European Union, the continuing flood of migrants crossing borders between member states and the economic, and financial concerns related to the monetary policies, labour law reform and the stubborn youth unemployment rates in various countries. Yet, he remains confident that EU leaders will find suitable solutions.

Despite the current wave of mixed public reaction over the benefits of trade agreements in which citizens are asking new and difficult questions of their leaders, Mecklenburg insists that CETA represents a tremendous opportunity to increase export sales and direct investment for both sides.

He noted that 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of the EU diplomatic mission in Ottawa during the administration of the current prime minister‘s father.

Mecklenburg urged the audience to go out and sell the message to the new government that Canada and Europe are like-minded partners that can together bring greater economic certainty to today’s changing global environment.

Article by Ken Mark

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 22 June 2016 11:18 )