Joint statement – EU and Canada: A progressive and dynamic strategic partnership

1st meeting of the EU – Canada Joint Ministerial Committee under the Strategic Partnership Agreement between  the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Canada, of the other part

Brussels, December 4, 2017

1. Today, the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) of the EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement held its first meeting in Brussels. The JMC, which was co-chaired by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice President of the Commission (HRVP), Federica Mogherini and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada Chrystia Freeland, reviewed the dynamic EU-Canada relationship and charted the way ahead. Based upon fundamental democratic values, a strong commitment to multilateralism and support to the  multilateral rules-based order, the JMC resolved to take concrete actions under the new EU-Canada Strategic Partnership Agreement to I) strengthen the EU-Canada bilateral relationship II) enhance foreign policy coordination and III) address global challenges and opportunities.

I. Strengthening the EU-Canada bilateral relationship 

2. The JMC discussed bilateral cooperation under the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) and adopted its rules of procedure. The SPA, which has been provisionally applied since 1 April 2017, is a genuine expression of shared values and ambitions and serves our common goal to attain the prosperity of our citizens in a safer, fairer and more inclusive world. The JMC also welcomed the expansion of cooperation in areas such as development and employment and social issues.  

3. The JMC reaffirmed the joint commitment to a progressive free and fair trade agenda and the fight against protectionism. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is an important tool to shape global trade rules and advance high labour and environmental standards. The JMC welcomed the start of CETA's provisional application on 21 September 2017. The JMC equally stressed the importance of effective implementation of CETA and the need for continuous work on communication about, and the promotion of, CETA benefits to citizens and stakeholders. The EU and Canada look forward to the full entry into force of CETA when all ratification processes are completed. CETA has the potential to boost economic growth and jobs creation. It also offers an opportunity to significantly advance cooperation on sustainable development, for example by encouraging low-carbon business, services and practices, in line with the Paris Agreement. The EU and Canada reaffirmed their commitment to work towards the establishment of a Multilateral Court for the settlement of investment disputes. The EU and Canada also committed to working together to improve the functioning of the WTO and contribute to a successful 11th WTO Ministerial in Buenos Aires.

4. The JMC welcomed the full visa lifting for all EU citizens to Canada as of 1 December 2017 which will enhance the mobility of their citizens and further strengthen cultural, political and economic ties.

5. Recognising the importance of fostering people-to-people contacts, the JMC recommended that EU – Canada civil society dialogues be set up with the aim of bringing together youth and other stakeholders to deepen relations and enrich the flow of ideas on issues of common concern.

6. Today, HRVP Mogherini and Minister Freeland also signed the Agreement between Canada and the EU on Security Procedures for Exchanging and Protecting Classified Information, which allows for the exchange of classified information between the EU and Canada, thus enabling enhanced cooperation in areas such as Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions.

7. The JMC also identified three key priority areas for the year ahead:

  1. Deeper Security and Defence cooperation. The enhancement of the EU's security and defence role, Canada's renewed defence policy and the progress achieved in EU-NATO cooperation provide a solid basis for stepping up EU-Canada security and defence cooperation. The EU appreciates Canada's consistent contributions to EU CSDP missions and operations. Responding to constantly evolving security threats that aim to undermine fundamental democratic values and liberties, the JMC recommended enhanced EU - Canada cooperation on countering hybrid threats and on cyber security, including through the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats in Helsinki. The JMC welcomed the concrete outcomes of the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial in Vancouver and affirmed the need to support the UNSG's work for more effective peacekeeping operations;
  2. Cooperation on advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The EU and Canada are committed to upholding gender equality as a core value and to integrating a gender perspective in all foreign and domestic policy areas, including Women, Peace and Security. The EU and Canada agreed to share experiences and build on each other's successes in advancing women's increased participation and enhanced roles in peace operations. They will hold discussions on how to accelerate progress at the national and multilateral levels. They will continue to place gender equality at the centre of their joint work and coordinate efforts in organizations including UN, G7, G20, NATO, OSCE and OAS. The JMC agreed that the EU and Canada will co-chair a Women Foreign Ministers Meeting in 2018 within the context of Canada's G7 Presidency.  
  3. Enhancing EU-Canada cooperation around the world. The JMC will explore synergies in our cooperation in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa, notably to improve aid effectiveness and aid coordination. The JMC welcomed the first EU-Canada Development Dialogue, which underscored shared priorities in our respective international assistance policies and highlighted the importance of multistakeholder partnerships for the effective implementation of Agenda 2030. In this vein, Canada and the EU will further explore opportunities for cooperation, including in the areas of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, development innovation, triangular cooperation and clean energy. The JMC stressed the importance of continuing dialogue on citizens' security/drugs with Latin American countries. The EU and Canada have a common interest in resilience building in the Caribbean and intend to enhance coordination of action in this field. The EU and Canada agreed on the importance of continuing their efforts to support the peace process in Colombia. The JMC agreed to enhance dialogue and cooperation with regard to the Sahel region. The JMC took note of the complementary nature of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, and Canadian programs in this same space, and agreed on the importance of ensuring close cooperation to deliver positive change. The JMC will also explore synergies in support of the Western Balkans.

II. Enhancing foreign policy coordination

8. Based on EU-Canada shared values of democracy, human rights, rule of law, and the respect for international law, the JMC resolved to enhance our coordination in foreign policy to promote international peace and security.  

9. The JMC expressed concern over the lack of progress in the security situation in eastern Ukraine. The JMC reasserted unequivocal support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemned the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation. The EU and Canada remain committed to a policy of non-recognition. The JMC is concerned about the severe suppression of human rights in the non-government controlled parts of eastern Ukraine/Donbas and in Crimea. The JMC reaffirmed that all sides must fully implement the Minsk agreements for a sustainable and peaceful solution to the conflict. We support the endeavours within the Normandy Group and commend the multifaceted commitment of the OSCE to de-escalate the crisis. The EU and Canada will continue to coordinate actions and restrictive measures which remain linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty. They will continue close cooperation, including in the framework of the G7 Ukraine Support Group, on assisting Ukraine in the implementation of agreed reforms, including in the field of civilian security sector reform (SSR).

10. The Russian Federation's responsibility in the conflict in eastern Ukraine demands that it take all necessary steps to restore peace and stability in Ukraine, including through the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements. We call on Russia to uphold the principles of the rules-based international order. However, despite our differences with Russia, the EU and Canada remain willing to engage with Russia to address regional crises and common challenges when it is in our interest. At the same time, we value strengthened contacts between our peoples and call for the removal of obstacles to the work of independent civil society and media in Russia.

11. The EU and Canada support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy to pursue intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva, focused on a genuine political transition in line with the UN Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2254. Canada will take an active part in the EU-hosted Second Brussels Conference "Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region" in Spring 2018. The EU and Canada continue to support accountability efforts, including setting up of the IIIM – International Impartial Independent Mechanism – and taking action against any confirmed use of chemical weapons.

12. The EU and Canada also both emphasised the need to continue their support to Iraq after the territorial defeat of Da'esh. They agreed to keep each other informed about their respective engagements in Iraq and, where appropriate, to coordinate their actions, including in the fields of post-conflict stabilisation and security sector reform (SSR).

13. Canada and the EU expressed full support for the UN plan to complete the political transition by amending the Libyan Political Agreement, approving a new Constitution and holding elections. We remain concerned by Libya's fast deteriorating economy and support the efforts of the Libyan Government of National Accord to implement the fiscal and monetary measures needed to address the crisis. We also remain concerned by the migrant situation in the country and support the Libyan Government of National Accord's efforts to address it with the support of international partners.

14. The EU and Canada are committed to the continued full and effective implementation of all parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy facilitated by the EU and unanimously endorsed by UNSCR 2231. The JCPOA is key for the nuclear non-proliferation global architecture and crucial for the security of the region. Its successful implementation continues to ensure that Iran's nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful. The role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to monitor and verify Iran’s strict implementation of its JCPOA commitments is critical in this regard. The JMC underlined that the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in its latest report that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. The JMC also welcomed the recent announcement by Canada of its additional financial contributions in support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

15. The EU and Canada urged all countries in the region to work towards de-escalation of tensions and avoiding actions which feed violence, sectarianism and polarisation. The JMC expressed its concern with the regional military build-up, including Iran's missile programme, and calls upon Iran to refrain from activities which may deepen mistrust, such as ballistic missile tests, which are inconsistent with UNSCR 2231. The proliferation of missile technologies across the region is also a growing concern and further consideration should be given to how to address this issue.

16. The North Korean nuclear and ballistic programmes pose grave threats to international peace and security and the nuclear non-proliferation regime. We condemn the DPRK’s continuing ballistic missile launches including its most recent launch on November 29, 2017, which is a further, unacceptable violation of the DPRK’s international obligations and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. The DPRK must abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programmes and other WMD programmes, in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, immediately cease all related activities and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the IAEA Safeguards. The JMC urged the DPRK to engage in a credible and meaningful dialogue in order to defuse tension and to enable steps aimed at pursuing the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We call on the international community to redouble its efforts to ensure sustained, comprehensive and thorough implementation of relevant UNSCRs to achieve lasting peace and denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

17. The JMC reiterated that a credible, internationally accompanied, negotiation process is the only sustainable way to address the current crisis in Venezuela and to respond to the pressing needs of its people. The JMC recognized the recent adoption of restrictive measures by both the EU and Canada as a necessary tool to incentivize the Venezuelan authorities to engage in a serious and constructive dialogue. It welcomed the Lima Group's efforts to seek a sustainable solution and underlined the need to create the necessary conditions for successful negotiations.  These conditions should include the release of all political prisoners, full respect for the prerogatives of the democratically elected National Assembly, the setting-up of an independent National Electoral Council with a balanced membership and a clear timetable for free and fair elections, and the facilitation of external assistance to address the most urgent needs of the population.

18. The EU and Canada remain very concerned about the humanitarian and human rights situation in Myanmar/Burma and in particular the Rakhine State and about the continuing influx of Rohingya into Bangladesh. They recalled the 6 November Presidential Statement of the Security Council and their support for the UNGA Third Committee Resolution adopted on 16 November in this regard. They reiterated their call for the immediate end of all violence, including sexual violence, and stressed the importance of full international humanitarian access to northern Rakhine State. The EU and Canada are encouraged that cooperation between Myanmar/Burma and Bangladesh led to the agreement on repatriation that was concluded on 23 November. To be meaningful and effective, this agreement must ensure that the return of the Rohingya to their homes in Rakhine State is safe, voluntary and dignified. This means restoring law and order in Rakhine as well as clamping down on hate speech and incitement to violence. The EU and Canada reiterate their request to the Myanmar/Burma government to provide full access for and cooperate with the Human Rights Council's Fact Finding Mission and to ensure accountability for those responsible for committing atrocities. The EU and Canada stand ready to support the government's efforts to implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State chaired by Kofi Annan, and are pleased that the 23 November agreement reiterates this commitment. The EU and Canada reiterate their support for the democratic transition in Myanmar/Burma which is the condition for ensuring lasting peace, development  and promoting the rule of law.

III. Addressing global challenges and opportunities

19. The JMC confirmed our strong commitment to multilateralism and the international rules-based order, with the United Nations at its core. The EU and Canada will continue promoting UN system reform to make it more fit to address today's complex and multi-faceted challenges. The JMC also reiterated our commitment to continue working together and pursuing common goals in the framework of G7 and G20, including during Canada's G7 Presidency in 2018.

20. The JMC noted the importance of closer and mutually-reinforcing cooperation between the EU and NATO, through the Joint Declaration signed by leaders in July 2016 as implemented through the respective Council decisions of the two organisations. In this context, the JMC agreed that closer EU-Canada cooperation in our three key priority areas for the year ahead, as per paragraph 7, will make an important contribution in this respect. Canada noted that it will provide dedicated support at NATO for EU-NATO cooperation and coordination.

21. The EU and Canada remain close partners in the global fight against terrorism. Sharing common ground in the field of Counter Terrorism, they noted the clear mutual interest in joining up more closely in multilateral fora, specifically in the United Nations and the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), and in capacity building efforts, especially in the Sahel and Southeast Asia. The EU and Canada also agreed on the importance of comprehensive and concerted actions aimed at preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) and radicalisation in all our societies. To that end, they noted the mutual willingness to share experience on evaluation and monitoring of the impact of P/CVE actions in third countries as well as to further promote international standards and support UN efforts.

22. The EU and Canada reaffirmed the importance of collaborating in the fight against corruption, transnational organized crime and money laundering, including in the framework of the UN Convention against Transnational and Organized Crime.

23. The JMC reaffirmed the commitment to continue an evidence-based approach to policies for tackling global challenges, and to pursue development in a sustainable manner. The JMC welcomed the High-Level Environmental Dialogue that took place in Ottawa in October 2017 on the full range of environmental issues and encouraged follow-up cooperation on the issues discussed. The JMC reaffirmed that, as the cornerstone to effectively tackling climate change, the Paris Agreement is irreversible and provides a clear signal to governments, civil society and the private sector on the direction of global actions. Following the progress made at COP 23, the EU and Canada are committed to the successful completion by 2018 of the related negotiations on the Paris Agreement work programme, and are resolved to provide continued climate-related support to developing and vulnerable countries. The EU and Canada are working together along with other major economies, including China, to demonstrate resolve for convergence of efforts on climate action and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In September 2017, Canada, China and the EU co-hosted the first Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA) in Montreal. The second MoCA will be co-hosted in Europe in 2018. The EU and Canada will also hold a High-Level Climate Dialogue in 2018.

24. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development marks a significant turning point towards a more sustainable future and greater, more inclusive international cooperation to that end. The EU and Canada are committed to taking this agenda forward at home and by supporting efforts in other countries including through mobilising innovative financial and non-financial means of implementation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. We will continue to work together with our international partners, as well as civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders, in this endeavour. The eradication of poverty remains the primary objective with gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls a critical means of doing so. We reaffirm the objective of achieving sustainable development in all three dimensions – social, economic and environmental – and to leave no one behind. Good governance, the rule of law, democracy, protection and promotion of human rights for all,, are necessary elements for building more inclusive, prosperous and peaceful societies.

25. Canada and the EU are working closely together to enhance energy security and support open, competitive, connected and sustainable energy markets (including for liquefied natural gas). The Joint Action Plan, the outcome of the renewed High-Level Energy Dialogue, outlines our priorities for closer cooperation: information sharing on oil and gas markets; research and innovation; energy efficiency; renewable energy; and international collaboration. We underscored our close co-operation in the preparation of the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation meetings, which in 2018 will be hosted in Copenhagen and Malmö by the EU, together with Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Nordic Council, and in 2019 will be hosted by Canada.

26. The drive towards a low carbon economy will require an increased supply of non-energy raw materials in the coming decades. In addition, the extractive industries are recognized amongst the sectors with potential to contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Thus, the EU and Canada are committed to promoting the values of responsible sourcing and mining globally, as well as to maximise the contribution of their raw materials sectors and associated industrial value chains to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

27. The EU and Canada face similar challenges in making sure that oceans remain healthy, productive and resilient environments. We reaffirmed the global nature of oceans and the importance of maintaining and strengthening coordination and cooperation to ensure their conservation and sustainable use. The JMC welcomed the multiple commitments made by both the EU and Canada at the UN Ocean Conference (UN Headquarters, June 2017) and the Our Ocean Conference (Malta, October 2017). The JMC committed to working together to improve international ocean governance. In this regard, the JMC welcomed the progress achieved at the United Nations General Assembly to launch an Intergovernmental Conference to negotiate a new treaty under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ). Both Canada and the EU remain committed to this process. The JMC further committed to reducing the impacts of human pressure on oceans, creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy and strengthening international ocean research and monitoring. Acknowledging our longstanding cooperation on ocean matters, in particular through the High Level Dialogue on Fisheries, the JMC noted the current reflections on developing an Ocean Partnership between the EU and Canada, as a means to achieving better global governance and policy coherence related to the world's oceans.

28. The JMC also noted with satisfaction that research cooperation on the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans has received global recognition as a model through the implementation of the 2013 EU-Canada-US Galway Statement on Atlantic Ocean Cooperation. Working together, Canada, Europe, and the US have formed heavily-leveraged partnerships to deliver the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. These partnerships have resulted in a series of collaborative projects involving both European and Canadian researchers and infrastructure in the fields of ocean health and stressors, aquaculture, ocean literacy, seabed mapping, and ocean observation.

29. The JMC reviewed the continued cooperative work on the Arctic, including through the Arctic Council, and reaffirmed the importance of addressing the challenges and opportunities that impact on peoples living in the Arctic. It welcomed EU's approval of the €1.5 million Partnership Instrument project to address Black Carbon in the Arctic - also a priority issue for Canada -  as a concrete example of such efforts. The JMC also welcomed the annual EU Arctic Indigenous peoples dialogue most recently held in Oulu in June 2017 as part of the EU High Level Event on the Arctic.

30. The JMC welcomed the successful conclusion of negotiations of a legally binding agreement preventing unregulated fishing in the High Seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean.

31. The JMC noted the considerable work done in research and innovation under the Canada-EU Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement, particularly in areas of health, marine and ocean research, Arctic, agriculture and agri-food, aeronautics, information and communication technologies, security (as first responders), research infrastructure and researcher mobility, and committed to exploring the scope for further collaboration in energy, climate and the environment. The JMC invites research programme owners and managers to continue to explore ways of enhancing collaboration in research, development and innovation projects, including opportunities for jointly funded research programmes, in particular when addressing global challenges.

32. The EU and Canada stressed the growing challenge of maintaining an open, free and secure cyberspace for the promotion of economic and social development and underlined the efforts needed to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms online. We are concerned about the increasing threat posed by malicious activity in cyberspace and are working together and with other partners to address this troubling trend. The JMC stressed that international law - including the UN Charter in its entirety - international humanitarian law and human rights law all apply in cyberspace, and thereby underlined the need to continue the efforts to ensure that international law is upheld in cyberspace, that voluntary norms of responsible State behaviour during peacetime are observed and that cyber confidence building measures (CBMs) are developed and implemented.

33. On transport, EU and Canada will continue working on matters of common interest in all modes, notably within international fora, such as IMO and ICAO.

34. Large movements of refugees and migrants is a growing global phenomenon, which can only be addressed effectively and in all its dimensions by the international community as a whole based on the principles of partnership and shared responsibility. The EU and Canada will continue to actively engage and coordinate at UN level, working together to shape the development of the Global Compacts on Migration and Refugees towards their adoption before the end of 2018.

35. Canada and the EU remain fully committed to the principles and the implementation of the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.

36. The EU and Canada looked forward to the restart of negotiations towards a new EU – Canada PNR Agreement soon and to a successful outcome of the process.

37. The JMC requested the JCC to monitor the follow up to this declaration and looked forward to receiving the first annual report on the state of the EU-Canada relationship under the Strategic Partnership Agreement after the 2nd meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee to be held in 2018.

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