PM Lee sends congratulations to new EU leaders Michel, von der Leyen, and thanks outgoing leaders Tusk, Juncker

In a file photo taken on Oct 19, 2018, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President of the European Council Donald Tusk shake hands as President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (right) for the EU looks on prior to the signing
In a file photo taken on Oct 19, 2018, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President of the European Council Donald Tusk shake hands as President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker (right) for the EU looks on prior to the signing of the EUSTFA, at the Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels, Belgium.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written valedictory letters to outgoing President of the European Council Donald Tusk and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, who officially stepped down last Saturday (Nov 30).

PM Lee has also sent congratulatory letters to President of the European Council Charles Michel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, both of whom officially assumed office last Sunday.

Mr Lee, in his letters to Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker dated Nov 30, commended both leaders for their leadership over multiple internal and external challenges. He also thanked them for strengthening the EU-Singapore partnership over the past five years.

Mr Lee noted that under Mr Tusk's guidance, EU-Singapore relations have grown steadily with the implementation of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) and the signing of the EU-Singapore Investment Protection Agreement (EUSIPA) and EU-Singapore Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EUSPCA).

"I am deeply appreciative of your strong support for these agreements and am confident that they will set the foundation for us to strengthen our multifaceted relationship," Mr Lee told Mr Tusk.

Mr Lee also expressed his appreciation for Mr Tusk's support for Asean-EU relations, including his presence at the Asean-EU Commemorative Summit in 2017 to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Asean-EU Dialogue relations.

"Asean and the EU are natural partners. We share similar views on many issues, including our commitment to a rules-based multilateral system and our recognition of the importance of tackling climate change," Mr Lee was quoted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) as saying in a press statement released on Monday.

In Mr Lee's letter to Mr Juncker, he said: "EU-Singapore relations have also grown from strength to strength under your leadership, culminating in the signing of EUSFTA, EUSIPA and EUSPCA in October 2018, and the entry into force of the EUSFTA on Nov 21."

"We need to muster all the support we can to strengthen the global consensus on the virtues of multilateralism and free trade. In this regard, the EU has provided critical leadership in defending the rules-based international order, and in tackling urgent global issues such as climate change," Mr Lee added.

 
 

In his congratulatory letters, dated Dec 1, to Mr Michel and Ms von der Leyen, Mr Lee said that as country coordinator for Asean-EU Dialogue Relations, Singapore will continue to work closely with the EU to expand and deepen the cooperation between our regions.

On the excellent EU-Singapore relations, PM Lee told Mr Michel: "I was pleased to be able to discuss with you, when we met in New York during the UN General Assembly in September, how to strengthen our relationship further. In this regard, I am happy to inform you that Singapore Airlines is seriously reviewing the commercial feasibility of direct flights between Singapore and Brussels."

Mr Lee told Ms von der Leyen: "I am particularly happy at the expeditious entry into force of the EUSFTA, just last week. It will give impetus to stronger ties, and enable us to work together to seize new opportunities in the fast-changing global economy."

"I look forward to meeting you soon to discuss ways we can further strengthen our bilateral and regional relations," he added.