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Views of Europe from afar

Germany assumes the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. That presents an ideal opportunity to ask people around the world what they think of Europe.

Europe seen from space
Europe seen from space © NicoElNino -

Ding Chun

Executive Director of the Centre for European Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai

“True, there are differences between China and the EU states in terms of culture, institutions and the stages and patterns of social development. But cooperation and consensus exceed competition and disagreements. So the two sides should jointly promote multilateralism, an open global economy and free trade to offset the impact of unilateralism and trade protectionism being practised by some developed economies. China will further open up its economy and resolve its economic differences with the EU through dialogue, including by pushing forward negotiations on a China-EU Investment Agreement. And by properly handling their trade and economic relations, China and the EU can further strengthen their win-win cooperation.”


Sergio Ramírez

Writer and winner of the Cervantes Prize, former Vice President of Nicaragua

“Latin America’s relations with the EU go far beyond agreements on market integration. The cultural diversity of the Latin American countries that integrated European culture early is proof of this close relationship. Perhaps the greatest advantage that Latin America has with regard to Europe lies in the fact that it is a diverse, multicultural space that does not demand geopolitical alliances nor attempt to divide the world into blocs. At the same time, Europe serves as a mirror in which we can measure ourselves against the democratic ideal, because unfortunately we still carry the burdens of authoritarianism. Our common goal must therefore be to establish a lasting and productive relationship based on freedom, humanism and tolerance.”


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Former President of Liberia, Nobel Peace Prize laureate

“Europe and Africa are inextricably linked by history, geography and economic ties. Today, securing a peaceful and prosperous future on either continent requires cooperation by both – but not the donor-supplicant relationship that has defined ‘cooperation’ in the past. Instead, leaders on both sides must build an equitable strategic relationship that benefits Europe as much as Africa, and Africa as much as Europe. African and European leaders must now lay the foundations for such a relationship by agreeing on a forward-looking strategy that addresses structural imbalances, harnesses the benefits of migration and delivers tangible ­benefits to their citizens.”


Vivian Balakrishnan

Foreign Minister of Singapore, Coordinator of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for EU Relations

“Obviously, we are in two very geographically different areas; we organise ourselves quite differently – and that is not surprising given our vast differences in national circumstances, but we share values, and we share common cooperating principles. So in a sense, the EU and ASEAN are quite natural partners.  Amidst the anti-globalisation rhetoric of recent years, I think it makes it even more important that the EU and ASEAN can get ­together on a common platform and double down on our cooperation.”



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