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King concludes Brussels visit with milestone deals with EU

By JT - Mar 18,2016 - Last updated at Mar 18,2016

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Thursday (Photo courtesy of Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah on Thursday returned home from Brussels, where he reached landmark agreements with the union leaders, including simplified rules of origin, a key goal sought in the partnership with Europe, a Royal Court statement said. 

The new rules will go into effect in July for a period of 10 years.

The visit’s outcomes also included an increase in the total size of assistance to Jordan in recognition of its pivotal role in preserving the region's peace and security.

His Majesty also agreed with EU leaders to launch the negotiations on the Jordanian-EU partnership programme for the coming four years.

The deal with NATO entailed expanding the NATO's military support to Jordan through a capacity-building programme. 

 

Landmark visit and summit meetings

 

During the two-day visit, His Majesty held a summit meeting with European Union leaders that continued over a working dinner hosted by EU Council President Donald Tusk at the council's headquarters in Brussels.

The meeting was attended by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer and several senior European officials.

He also met with high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

Thursday witnessed more separate meetings with Tusk and Juncker, in addition to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.   

Talks focused on ways to developing strategic partnership between Jordan and the EU, especially in terms of supporting the Kingdom’s economic potential.

The discussions also covered the latest regional and international developments and means to address them, especially with regard to the war on terrorism, according to a Royal Court statement.

In His Majesty’s meeting with Schulz, they reviewed “the advanced level” of cooperation between Jordan and EU institutions, especially in the economic field, in light of the outcomes of the London donor conference.

They discussed procedures to simplify European rules of origin for Jordan to facilitate investments in qualified development and industrial zones in the country.

Jordan has designated five of these zones to create jobs for Jordanians and Syrians.

King Abdullah expressed his appreciation for the European Parliament’s support to Jordan and its development process within the context of the Kingdom’s advanced status as an EU partner.

Schulz said the King’s visit reflects keenness to boost bilateral relations and commended the King’s role in enhancing regional security and stability.

At the meeting with Juncker, His Majesty highlighted the central role of EU institutions in supporting endeavours aimed at addressing the repercussions of Middle East crises and resolving them, including enhancing security and stability in Iraq and Libya.

On efforts to fight terrorism and extremist ideologies, the King stressed that maintaining the security and stability of the region and its peoples requires addressing these threats through a holistic approach and a comprehensive and clear strategy that addresses the military, security and ideological aspects of the issue. 

He also reaffirmed Jordan’s stance that supports efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution in Syria, which ends the suffering of Syrians and limits the refugee influx into neighbouring countries.

Juncker renewed the EU’s keenness to develop its relations with the Kingdom, which enjoys an advanced status in its partnership with the union, stressing the EU’s willingness to help Jordan implement its economic and development plans and deal with the impacts of regional turbulence.

King Abdullah and the NATO chief discussed means to develop bilateral relations especially at the military level, the statement added.

They also reviewed ways to enhance the situation in Libya and the need to empower the country to overcome the challenges facing it. 

Having a clear and comprehensive approach is essential to win the war against terrorist organisations, which constitute the main threat to the international security and stability, King Abdullah said.

Stoltenberg renewed NATO’s commitment to supporting Jordan and sustaining coordination and cooperation to serve mutual interests. He commended the Kingdom for its active role in the fight against terror, underlining the good reputation Jordan enjoys in the international community as a trust worthy partner in this war.

Prior to concluding his visit to Brussels, the King met with Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdul Latif Al Zayani and reviewed strategic relations between the Kingdom and GCC as well as ways to boost them.

Talks covered joint Arab action and the need to bolster it in the face of the array of challenges facing Arabs, and in a way that serves Jordanian-Gulf interests and other Arab causes.

Mogherini remarks to Petra 

In remarks to the Jordan New Agency, Petra, Mogherini stressed the importance of the King’s visit to Brussels, especially as it came after His Majesty’s visit to Strasburg last year where he delivered a “very important and strong speech”.

She said they discussed with His Majesty the Syrian crisis and the efforts to handle the refugees’ problem and their influx. She said that when it comes to the region, Jordan is an important partner for the EU and both sides share the same visions on how to address the various challenges at hand. 

“The King’s visit is not only important but also successful,” she was quoted by Petra as saying.

On Jordan’s role in dealing with regional issues, Mogherini said the Kingdom is a reference for the EU as it is playing an important role in fighting radicalism and terrorism and clarifying the true message of Islam to the world.

There is a positive response to His Majesty’s vision by Muslims and non-Muslims, not only in the Middle East but also in the Arab World, Europe, Africa and elsewhere, the EU official said. 

On efforts to revive the peace process in the Middle East, Mogherini said this is one of the issues Europeans are now cooperating in a very good way with Jordan, which, she said, is bearing special responsibility towards Jerusalem’s holy sites and is a partner to the international community in supporting the peace process and pushing for the realisation of the two-state solution.

Mogherini added that Jordan is one of the countries receiving EU’s assistance to be able to address the challenges resulting from hosting large numbers of refugees.

The union is aware that investment in empowering Jordanian hosting communities is an investment in Europe’s future and that is why the union is extending economic support to the Kingdom and will continue doing so.

It is also of prime significance that the EU commits to the pledges it made at the London conference, she said.

On the issue of simplifying the EU’s rules of origin for Jordan, she added both sides are following up on the progress achieved in this project, noting that teams are working on daily basis to complete technical details related to this issue.

One of the issues both partners will work relentlessly and vigorously on is creating sustainable jobs for Jordanians and Syrians, Mogherini noted.  

 

There is a consensus among all the 28 member states on the importance of moving ahead with supporting Jordan to be able to deal with the various challenges, the EU foreign affairs chief concluded. 

Outcomes of King’s Brussels visit 

Following are the outcomes of the King's summit and meetings with the EU and NATO leaders:

• Increasing the total size of assistance to Jordan to help it alleviate its burdens and in recognition of its pivotal role in protecting the region's peace and security.

• Agreeing with the EU officials on applying simplified rules of origin between Jordan and the member states for 10 years as of the beginning of July.

•  Launching negotiations on the Jordanian-EU partnership programme for the coming four years.

• Expanding NATO's military support to Jordan through capacity-building programme. 

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