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Historic EU delegation paves way for closer Taiwan-Europe ties

Europe ready to begin new era of bilateral relations through cooperation on disinformation

European Parliament delegation. (Taiwan News, Kelvin Chen photo)

European Parliament delegation. (Taiwan News, Kelvin Chen photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday (Nov. 5) held a press conference with members of the visiting European Parliament delegation to review the major takeaways from their discussions with Taiwan's officials about fake news and upholding democracy.

The European Parliament Committee on Foreign Interference members said they were optimistic about Europe-Taiwan relations and praised Taiwan as a vibrant democracy. The French chair of the committee, Raphael Glucksmann, said that it was a “great honor” to come to Taiwan and praised the nation as having the most robust democracy in the region.

He said the group came to learn and observe from the Taiwanese government and its experiences combating disinformation and defending democratic values. Glucksmann added that there is a consensus within the European Parliament to support Taiwan’s democracy, as shown by the recent passing of the report on Europe-Taiwan relations.

The group met with a number of Taiwanese officials and ministers, including Audrey Tang (唐鳳). Glucksmann said they were impressed by the fact that Taiwan treated disinformation and foreign interference as issues that transcend all facets of government and society.

He said that great friendships “are based on shared principles and ambitions and mutual benefits.” The EU is considering making Taiwan a hub for countering disinformation, said Glucksmann.

The committee chair noted, “the more interactions between Taiwan and the world there are, the less dangerous the Taiwan Strait will be.” This is because increased bilateral exchanges will send a strong message to Beijing that Taiwan is not alone and there will be “a heavy price to pay” if China makes a unilateral move in the region.

Glucksmann stressed the EU makes decisions “based on interests of European citizens and the principles on which the EU is built.”

Marketa Gregorova, a Czech Pirate Party politician, said the EU and Taiwan should hold talks with social media companies to set standards and regulations “so they are not the only ones making the rules.”

When asked to comment on Prague-based think tank director Jakub Janda’s proposed “one Taiwan” policy, she said it was obviously a sarcastic reference to the term “one China.” She was quick to point out that this does not mean the EU's “one China” policy will be abolished but rather points to a new way of conducting Europe-Taiwan relations.

Former Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said that both Taiwan and the Baltic nation face similar challenges posed by larger neighbors. He said the countries should continue sharing their experiences and recommended an informal annual Taiwan-EU dialogue that focuses on the development of democracy and protection.

Petras Austrevicius, another Lithuanian politician, said the EU and Taiwan see many possibilities for future cooperation and that both sides realize the need for a “multi-sectorial” approach. Austrevicius also said the world must stand firm against China following its actions in Hong Kong.

He said he had met Hong Kong legislators living in exile and that after listening to what they had to say, he realized a totalitarian regime that has committed many crimes in the past will inevitably expand and impose its rule on neighboring countries and regions.

Georgios Kyrtsos, a New Democracy party politician, said the EU is not anti-China but pro-Taiwan. He said that Europe is eager to learn from Taiwan’s success in terms of its economic development and countering fake news.

He said that “our presence here is the beginning of an exciting relationship” and suggested that there will be more partnerships in the coming months to solidify Taiwan-Europe relations.

The delegation met with Taiwan officials, NGOs, and civil society groups over a period of three days.