May 19, 2023 Digital White Paper – Message from the EU Ambassador
Now more than ever, the EU and Japan are aligning in solidarity on the fundamental challenges that we are facing in these turbulent times. Our deep and evolving strategic and economic partnership allows us to cooperate closely in a wide range of areas. From Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine that has triggered a global energy, fertiliser and food crises, to threats to security and open and rules-based multilateral order, to climate change and energy transition, to environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, to trade and economic security, to technological revolution, to the post-pandemic recovery and our efforts at building pandemic preparedness for the future.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is sharpening our focus on common challenges: energy security, economic security and disinformation – all areas where like-minded partners like the EU and Japan can and do cooperate. The EU can count on Japan, not only in supporting Ukraine now and sanctioning Russia’s war machine, but also in our efforts towards Ukraine’s post-war recovery.
Our policy frameworks must constantly evolve with the societal and technological developments and global challenges. Therefore the EU and Japan are also teaming up via our Digital Partnership and Green Alliance to shape human-centric digital transformation & green growth. To promote global standards and regulatory approaches for digital and green policies and technologies, more and deeper convergence in our policies will benefit citizens and businesses in both the EU and Japan.
The energy crisis has exposed the EU’s overreliance on Russian fossil fuels and the need to further accelerate the clean transition of our energy sector and our economy. We have already significantly reduced our dependence on Russian fossil fuels, accelerated energy transition and renewables deployment, as this is a solution for both energy security and climate neutrality. Also in the decarbonised energy system of the future, in which renewables play a crucial role, energy security risks through dependencies on the raw materials that are critical for green and digital technologies, have to be duly addressed. This is why, the European Commission have recently put forward two proposals for EU Net Zero Industry Act and a Critical Raw Materials Package. All this brings us important new opportunities for our authorities, societies and businesses both in the EU and in Japan to team up on these common objectives.
Meanwhile, our Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), which is in its fourth year of implementation keeps bringing tangible benefits for our citizens and businesses. Trade data demonstrates that EPA makes our trade relations more resilient: our bilateral trade flows suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the recovery has been as fast as the decline, and as from the beginning of 2021, our bilateral trade quickly caught up to pre-pandemic levels in 2021 (EUR 124 billion). In 2022, bilateral trade flows continued to increase at a very sustained pace, with an increase of 13.4% in bilateral trade value. Last year, the EU and Japan have launched negotiations on including the rules on cross-border data flows in our EPA. In April 2023, the EU and Japan announced a successful conclusion of the first review of our 2019 mutual adequacy arrangement in the area of data protection (link). Data flows are key for our bilateral trade and investment. With these positive steps the EU and Japan reaffirm that, in the digital era, maintaining high data protection standards and facilitating international trade should and can go hand in hand.
In all this context your voice is important. The EBC’s advocacy activities and the White Paper with its recommendations from different sectoral committees are an important contribution to building our relations with Japan, and to creating a predictable and conductive framework for our citizens and businesses.
As Robert Schuman, one of the founders of the European Communities said “Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity.” And, the EBC work to foster a more united European voice to break down obstacles to trade, business development, and investment, is a prime example of ground work to create de-facto European solidarity here in Japan. Over last 50 years, you have proven many times that through more solidarity our European voice is stronger and that together we can achieve more.
As always, my team at the EU Delegation to Japan will continue a close cooperation with the EBC, your members, and our Member States to support our industry in accessing the Japanese market and to consolidate and expand the cooperation between the EU and Japan.
Ambassador of the European Union to Japan
Head of the Delegation