The General Directorate for Health and Food Safety - DG SANTE, together with the European External Action Service - EEAS and the Luxembourg Presidency of the European Council, have organized in Brussels the 11 and 12 November 2015 a two-days seminar on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (SPS) and Food Safety issues. The aim of this seminar was to promote cooperation and coordination with the ASEM countries, on scientific and technical aspects of food security. The importance of food safety in the trade exchanges, especially in a globalized world, between the European Union and the Asian countries was highly underlined.
This event represents a milestone for the Asia-Europe dialogue, as it is the first joint seminar dedicated to this topic, since the Asia-Europe Meeting - ASEM has been created, two decades ago. The major interest of the discussions was bringing together a high number of participants, from about 50 countries, from Asia and Europe, from the European Commission, the European Parliament and also diplomatic representatives accredited to Brussels.
The Minister of Agriculture of Luxembourg, Fernard Etgen, has expressed the priority of the Presidency to move forward the food issues on the political agenda. “We should focus on food quality, development of food standards and best exchanges in this field”, he said.
In her intervention, Karin Kadenbach, Member of the European Parliament, mentioned the right of all the consumers to food safety and traceability and thanked the Commission and the Luxembourg Presidency for a strong involvement in this area. Herbert Dorfmann, also Member of the European Parliament, said that the food safety is a global concern, of key interest both for the European and Asian countries.
Ladislav Miko, Deputy Director General DG SANTE, recalled that the European Union has the highest standards for food security in the world. Its food legislation serves as model benchmark for other countries, to set international standards. The Commission expressed its willingness to work with the ASEM countries for the improvement of the cooperation and the harmonization of legislations. The European policies want to ensure high level of human health regarding the food industry. Mr. Miko expressed also the interest of his Directorate in establish technical cooperation with the Asian countries in this field. He clearly called the trade partners on considering EU as single entity and not as 28 Member States.
ASEM is the key forum for dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe. It provides a stable platform for partnership, to foster political dialogue and reinforce economic cooperation as well as collaboration in various other areas. It was founded in 1996 and it counts currently 51 partner countries, as well the ASEAN Secretariat and the European Union. Representing about 60% of the world GDP, of its population and of global trade, ASEM embraces virtually the whole of Asia and Europe. In 2016, the Summit for the ASEM 20th anniversary will be hosted by Mongolia.