With the European Union set to celebrate Europe Day on May 9, its delegation in Indonesia has organized a full month of events to highlight its achievements and further strengthen relations with Southeast Asia's largest economy. (JG Photo/Sheany)

As Europe Day Nears, EU Organizes Cross-Cultural Festivities to Strenghten Ties With Indonesia


MAY 03, 2017

Jakarta. With the European Union set to celebrate Europe Day on May 9, its delegation in Indonesia has organized a full month of events to highlight its past achievements and further strengthen relations with Southeast Asia's largest economy.

Europe Day marks the 67th anniversary of the Schuman declaration. In 1950, then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman set out his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe — the beginning of what is now the EU.

The month-long celebration will highlight diversity, creativity and culture, and will include the 17th EU Film Festival, the EU-Asean Run and several music concerts organized by embassies of EU member states.

"[...] Indonesia and Europe are different in many respects, but we do share many things in common, particularly our love for diversity and our commitment to unity," EU ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam, Vincent Guérend, said in a press conference on Tuesday (02/05).

The year 2017 not only marks the 60th anniversary of the European Union and the 50th of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), it also marks the 40th anniversary of formal EU-Asean relations.

According to EU Ambassador to Asean Francisco Fontan, both blocs are strong partners in political and economic integration.

"[...] There’s a lot we can learn from each other. We've had concrete cooperation [...] and developed all kinds of dialogues to exchange policies and experiences," Francisco said.

As part of the EU Film Festival, a workshop on financial incentives for the film industry has also been organized for May 4-5. European experts from five EU member states will share their experiences on how to develop friendly schemes on tax incentives.

Palm Oil Dispute

In early April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on palm oil and deforestation, which Indonesia subsequently criticized on the basis that it discriminated against local palm oil manufacturers and disregarded the nation's efforts to introduce sustainable practices to the industry.

In the wake of strong reactions from Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia, Guérend emphasized on Tuesday that the EU resolution is not legally binding, but rather should serve as a guideline.

"[...] meaning that [...] the resolution doesn’t as such create any laws [and that] 2020 as a target date is not legally binding," Guérend said.

He added that trade between the EU and Asean blocs increased significantly over the last five years; EU imports of palm oil and palm oil-related products increased by 40 percent between 2011 and 2015, with nearly half of that increase coming from Indonesian exports alone.

"Those who say the EU has boycotted Indonesian palm oil, or palm oil-related products, are making claims unsustained by facts," Guérend said.

The EU will also host a panel discussion on women's economic empowerment on May 16 and a conference for its World Cities project on May 23. Additionally, a business roundtable discussion on the future of Indonesia-EU trade and investments has also been organized for May 24.