On March 28, 2023, the Programme in European Studies at the College of International Affairs visited the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan (EETO), during which the students had an in-depth conversation and discussion with Mr. Filip Grzegorzewski, the head of the office. The meeting focused mainly on the exchange of ideas concerning EU affairs and EU’s presence in Taiwan. The students also received a presentation on EU-Taiwan relations and the EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, providing them with a greater understanding of the economic and political landscape between EU and Taiwan.
Mr. Grzegorzewski started the meeting by addressing a wide range of questions raised by both local and international students. During the session, he stressed the significance of shared values between EU and Taiwan, as they form the foundation of EU-Taiwan cooperation. Due to the like-mindedness of both parties, the EU and Taiwan are “natural partners”, and this can be leveraged to further deepen bilateral relations.
Furthermore, Mr. Grzegorzewski complimented Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts, particularly on our parliamentary diplomacy and how we promote our values to other states, which enables Taiwan to engage more fully with the international community despite the challenges ahead. The current visit of the delegation from Czech Republic serves as a prime example of this.
In terms of EU-Taiwan relations, Mr. Grzegorzewski maintains a positive outlook and shared recent cooperation between the two on various subjects, such as, trade, combating disinformation and promoting human rights. One example is the annual EU Investment Forum which provides Taiwanese companies with opportunities to invest in Europe. Not only does the Forum aims to attract Taiwanese companies, he also emphasized that this initiative serves Taiwan's interests by promoting trade diversification, given that foreign direct investment in China currently accounts for 42% of Taiwan's total investment, which is considered a weakness regarding the current Cross Strait situation. Moreover, European Union has emerged as a significant investor in Taiwan, as “a superpower in investment”. However, Taiwan's investment in the EU is relatively small. Therefore, the Investment Forum seeks to address this gap by encouraging Taiwanese companies to consider investment opportunities in Europe, which could ultimately benefit Taiwan's economy.
EU’s One-China policy and Indo-Pacific Strategy were also important topics discussed during the meeting. With Taiwan being mentioned in the documents for the first time ever, bilateral relations between Taiwan and EU have been elevated to a new level. Despite the pressures from Beijing, Mr. Grzegorzewski emphasized the importance of developing positive contacts with Taiwan to ensure a safe environment, and ultimately, seeking for a peaceful resolution for Cross Strait relations. This underlines the EU's commitment to an “inclusive” Indo-Pacific strategy and to working with Taiwan to promote stability and security in the region.
The meeting covered a wide range of topics and the students were highly engaged throughout. Mr. Grzegorzewski was impressed by the level of participation and the students' knowledge of the European Union. Students also provided positive feedback, describing the visit as interesting, insightful, and informative. It offered students who are interested in international relations or aspire to work in the field of diplomacy an excellent platform to gain first-hand information on diplomatic work and deepen their understanding of the EU and its relationship with Taiwan.