Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Visas for Taiwanese Citizens

Delivered in Plenary - 10th November 2010

Mr President

Commissioner Malmström was, of course, herself a good friend of Taiwan in her MEP days. I am now the President of the Taiwanese Friendship Group in this Parliament. I am, of course, delighted on behalf of our group to welcome the fact that Taiwanese citizens will soon be able to enter the Schengen zone without needing a visa – also known in EU jargon terms as a visa liberalisation for Taiwan.

My country, the UK, and Ireland – both of which are of course outside Schengen – gave Taiwanese citizens visa-free privileges a year and a half ago. I can safely say that our experience in Britain, particularly in terms of boosting tourism and bone fide business travel since then, fully indicates that this decision was a good one.

Taiwan is a thriving, wealthy and modern democracy that shares our values of supporting human rights, peace, security and prosperity in the region. We can only benefit from facilitating closer business ties with Taiwan, whose economy is growing again and going from strength to strength, and is increasingly a springboard for European investments into China. Europe, of course, is also rapidly catching up with America as a destination of choice for Taiwanese university students and graduates wanting to do research. Again, the benefits of these exchanges are substantial in every possible sense. This is an important sign of our support and solidarity with Taiwan which, under President Ma’s inspired leadership, has sought pragmatic solutions to the international isolation imposed on it by the People’s Republic of China.