Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2010-11-10-Speech-3-244"

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"Commissioner, I would also like to send my regards to your excellent team. Ladies and gentlemen, Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 lists the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the Union’s external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement. Currently, Taiwan does not require visas from the majority of the Member States, except for Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria. The Taiwanese authorities have nevertheless undertaken to ensure that a visa waiver is in place for nationals of those countries by 11 November, in other words, tomorrow. This is a formal commitment of which the Presidency of the Council, the European Commission and Parliament have been notified, along with the permanent representations of the countries concerned. For this reason, Mr President, and for other reasons which I shall mention in my second speech, it is worth us granting the visa exemption to Taiwan, as the United Kingdom and Ireland did last year. The proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 that we are discussing today has three objectives: transferring Taiwan to the positive list, transferring other third countries or territories – Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau – to the positive list and the situation of the Northern Mariana Islands. The situation of the Northern Mariana Islands does not pose any problems, as its inhabitants are, as you are aware, US citizens. With regard to the requests to transfer the third countries that I listed, the Commission finds no justification for removing the visa requirement, and neither do we. In the case of Taiwan, this Asian island has experienced commendable democratic, social and economic development. Democratic institutions have been firmly established since 1996, when the first direct presidential elections were held. The President is the Head of the Government, and is elected by the people of Taiwan via universal suffrage for a four-year term. Legislative power currently lies with the Legislative Yuan, which has 113 members. Economically, Taiwan’s income per head of population is one of the highest in the world at USD 30 100, in July 2010, unemployment stood at 5.2%, way below the European average, which was 10.1% in the same month. During the first quarter of 2010, economic growth hit 13.27%, whilst during the first half of 2010, the balance of trade surplus stood at USD 12.1 billion. Figures published by the International Monetary Fund in 2009 placed Taiwan’s economy 25th in the world, with a gross national product of USD 379 billion. It should be pointed out that in 1950, Taiwan was poorer than Ghana, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Until 1960, it was more reliant on commodities exports than countries like Kenya, South Africa and Lebanon. Today, however, products manufactured in Taiwan account for more than 97% of the country’s exports. All this has meant that Taiwan’s net migration rate stands at just 0.15%. For this reason, it is very unlikely that we will have to deal with any illegal immigrants from Taiwan. According to data supplied by the Commission, in 2006-2008, only 45 illegal immigrants throughout the entire European Union were found to have come from Taiwan. As far as the security of travel documents is concerned, I would like to point out that Taiwanese electronic passports meet all the anti-counterfeiting standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The situation of dispersed Taiwanese should be looked at closely, as even if they have passports issued by the authorities, they need prior authorisation to enter Taiwan. For this reason, it would seem logical for the European Union to maintain a similar approach regarding those people, as my report proposes."@en1

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