NEWS

ANALYSIS: EU Ambassador Played Key Role In Normalising Relations With Fiji

Andrew Jacobs is a seasoned diplomat. The Suva-based European Union Ambassador for the Pacific has used his wealth of experience to lift the EU profile since he started in February,
12 Jun 2015 08:57
ANALYSIS: EU Ambassador Played Key Role In Normalising Relations With Fiji
Andrew Jacobs at yesterdays press briefing.

Andrew Jacobs is a seasoned diplomat.

The Suva-based European Union Ambassador for the Pacific has used his wealth of experience to lift the EU profile since he started in February, 2013.

He moved to Suva at a time when relations between Fiji and the EU were suspended after the events of 2006. At the same time he had to look after 11 countries which he is accredited to.

It’s not an easy job by any stretch of the imagination.

But he took on the responsibility like he has done with his previous postings:

– Head of Unit in EuropeAid in Brussels, where he was responsible for co-operation with North Africa and the Middle East; and

– Diplomatic postings in Vietnam and Thailand.  In Bangkok, he was in charge of EU co-operation with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, as well as with Thailand.

Those who have had dealings with Mr Jacobs speak highly of him. He is charismatic and easy to get along with.

He has no problem handling sensitive situations without compromising the standards, principles and ideals of the EU.

His principled stand on several issues including climate change has earned him the respect of Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

On Tuesday next week, Mr Bainimarama and Neven Mimica, will sign the National Indicative Programme (NIP), marking the normalising of relations between the EU and Fiji. Mr Mimica is the European Commissioner for International Development and Co-operation.  He was appointed a few months ago and this will be first visit to Fiji and the region.

This will be a significant event because it has taken almost nine years to restore full relations. During this period Fiji never got any direct development funding from Brussels. Some of this funding was channelled through NGOs for a variety of developments. But it only represented a fraction of what Fiji could have received through direct funding.

Mr Jacobs played an influential role in the normalising of relations. He has been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to focus on the needs of Fiji and the region. Climate change has been at the forefront of his campaign. Europe will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, the toughest climate change target of any region in the world, and will produce 27 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.

The landmark deal was reached after grinding negotiations, as warring factions within the European Commission and member states fought over whether to water down the proposals.

The EU is now the first to set out emissions reduction targets ahead of a crunch meeting of world governments in Paris in November that will decide a global framework for avoiding dangerous levels of global warming. Every other major developed and developing economy is expected to set out its own binding national emissions target within the next year, for the United Nations talks to go ahead.

Mr Bainimarama will lead the charge of small island nations in the Paris meeting about climate change. The EU will be right behind him to lend him moral support.

Through the leadership of Mr Jacobs and his team, the EU has strengthened its role as a key development partner in the region across a range of fields including development, climate change and trade.

The past week has served as proof that the EU-Fiji relations are stronger than ever. Through its decision to host the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Fiji has provided a platform for the Members of the European Parliament and parliamentarians from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, to come together in an effort to strengthen their co-operation, promote democracy and the rule of law. Mr Jacobs and his team have worked hard to improve the visibility of the EU in Fiji and the Pacific region and to raise awareness of the importance of the EU as a strategic partner, both in terms of development co-operation and on a wide range of global issues such as climate change.

Next week, the EU will hold its first high-level political dialogue with Fiji. Sugar and climate change will be high on the agenda.

The meeting will be chaired by Mr Bainimarama, and on the European side by the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.  Latvia currently holds the Presidency of the European Union and Minister Rinkevics is representing the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini.

This is a busy time for Mr Jacobs and his team, making sure that the events planned for next week go according to plan.

It is in addition to overseeing development projects now being developed in Fiji. They include the Research Unit to improve the sugar yield of cane in Lautoka which Mr Mimic will visit next week. Mr Jacobs has two more years left for his assignment here.

When he finally finishes, he is likely to get “A Job Well Done, Thank You” card from his superiors in Brussels.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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