Taipei Times | 8 November 2021
‘EU agrees on cooperation with Taipei’
The head of a European Parliament delegation that visited Taiwan last week said there is now a consensus among European political factions that cooperating with Taiwan is important for the bloc, and that he would continue to push for closer bilateral ties.
The delegation, which visited from Wednesday to Friday, comprised members of the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes in the EU, including Disinformation (INGE).
In an interview with French media outlet La Liberation in Taipei on Thursday, INGE President Raphael Glucksmann, who led the delegation, said that the visit was kept low-key before the delegation departed, as the delegates did not want opposition from Beijing to muddle the focus of the visit or put improper pressure on the European Commission.
Although it was not the first time that European Parliament members have visited Taiwan, it was the first official delegation sent by the European Parliament, Glucksmann said.
In the past, there was no consensus on organizing an official delegation to Taiwan, he said, but now, people of different political factions have realized how important it is for Europe to cooperate with Taiwan, which is why the European Parliament decided to send a delegation.
Now that the first trip has been successful, a door has been opened, he said, expressing hope that such visits would become the norm and become more frequent.
During the visit, Glucksmann said that he was impressed by Taiwan’s inclusion of think tanks, non-governmental organizations and journalists in its whole-society approach to combating disinformation, as well as how Taiwan has managed to grow more open in the face of foreign threats.
Asked how supporting Taiwan benefits the EU, Glucksmann said that supporting democracies against authoritarian regimes is in the long-term interest of the EU and is an issue of principle.
If Europe does not take action, Beijing’s appetite will grow, he said, adding that history has shown that conceding to authoritarian and expansionist countries makes them increasingly hard to keep in check.
Although Europe cannot guarantee the safety of Taiwan, it can create a space where Taiwan is not isolated through exchanges in academia, culture and trade, he said.
Such engagements have prompted China to accuse Europe of causing regional instability, but these accusations are false, because cross-strait tension was high before Europe took action in support of Taiwan, Glucksmann said.
It is also because of China’s aggression that Europe has stepped up its cooperation with Taiwan, he added.
Glucksmann said that he would continue to push for closer ties between the EU and Taiwan, and advocate for a bilateral investment agreement.