Andrea Mateo Fontana, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to EU, was the guest of the interview program of euronews.
Jane Witherspoon, euronews: What is your role here in the United Arab Emirates, can we start with it?
Andrea Mateo Fontana, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the EU: “In 2013, we opened our European Union delegation here, because we wanted to strengthen our cooperation with this country. My role here is to intensify bilateral relations with the UAE and also to explain to the people here, the public, what the EU is.”
euronews: How can you describe the relations between the EU and the UAE?
Andrea Matteo Fontana: “The relations are good now, I think they are growing. I think they have potential and act strategically. Our interest here is to work with UAE in many areas. This is important. We are one of the biggest trade blocks for UAE. We traded 15 billion euros last year. This has placed us among the top three blocks that trade with this country. Investment is important to us. There are a lot of European investors here, but this is also about how we look at the future and how we can exchange information and experience with this country. I think of economic diversity. I think it is very important for the UAE, which aims to diversify its oil-based economy that wants change. ”
euronews: You mentioned the main strategies you followed, and especially the economy through trade. Going forward in the current climate is very difficult. This is a global epidemic in which we are all affected. Especially for these areas, you know what are the challenges that come with it.
Fontana: The crisis has shown that globalization is important.
Andrea Mateo Fontana: “I think the crisis has shown that globalization is important. But when a crisis like this strikes and then it has consequences for the economy and supply, it is difficult to solve things in the short term to make sure things are moving in the right place at the right time. I think we need protection, not protectionism. We don’t want isolation. we want global cooperation. ”
euronews: There are many European immigrants living here. How important is it to know that you have a presence here and that this work continues behind the scenes, especially now?
Andrea Mateo Fontana: “For this, the month of April was extremely busy for all of us, especially for our colleagues in embassies trying to find the right flights to return to European countries. This was part of the great effort that the EU has undertaken worldwide with its member states, more than half a million tourists in Europe. We made sure that he was able to return to their home.
But I think we will solve this problem altogether with the gradual reopening of the country and the protocol that the UAE is now implementing at airports. I believe what is very successful in this country is that the authorities offer a high degree of testing to everyone living here. I think this is one of the decisive factors that led the country to reopen now and Dubai to start welcoming tourists today. “
‘Covid-19 AThe most serious crisis in history B ‘
euronews: What role does the EU play in Europe when it comes out of the crisis, and what role will the UAE play in it? So to speak, in the plan to get out of it.
Andrea Mateo Fontana: “The challenge for Europe will be getting out of it. We have gradually lifted the movement restrictions that were initially implemented for security reasons. Now the EU is reopening. You can travel freely within the Union. Then, we are also interested in outside the EU. Solidarity with smaller countries from Europe is important.”
euronews: The economy has suffered a little globally during this entire pandemic process. In your opinion, what tactics and post-pandemic strategies should be used to make sure we guide ourselves during this period?
Andrea Mateo Fontana: “It will be difficult for all of us. I mean, the economy has suffered a lot due to the crisis. Let’s be honest. This is the most serious crisis in the history of the EU. That is, the gross domestic product of some member states and many countries in the world will shrink by 5 to 10 percent this year. This is something that has not been seen since the Great Depression of the last century, which means that the difficulties are abnormally large. There are many people who have lost their jobs. Many companies are closing. This is a difference for governments before international organizations such as the EU. “We have proposed a new generation EU program at EU level that will be financed with 750 billion euro. This is a huge amount of money provided there. This proposal, which is yet to be approved by all member states, is related to the economy of the future.”
‘Not to dictate there to support EU member states’
euronews: But how much control should be left to local governments, especially in Europe, to stand on their own and reactivate their country?
Andrea Mateo Fontana: “Member states are responsible for their own economic choices. The EU is there to support them. Not to dictate. But I think the most important thing is to try to find a common answer to the common problem. Then we can come out of this crisis together. But for all member states there is no single recipe because the economies are different “The population is different. We need to leave them open doors so they can recipe whatever their local challenges are.”
euronews: Expo 2020 will be held in Dubai next year. Why is it important to be sure of the success of this and especially its contribution to the local economy?
Andrea Mateo Fontana: “I will be the EU’s overall official in Expo 2020 and I think its importance is changing. It is difficult to predict what will happen until next year. However, Expo 2020 will be one of the first global events to be held after the global epidemic has ended or has declined significantly. Thanks to our investment and all other efforts, however, the Expo 2020 will be one of the first events we share our experiences and learn from each other. I think the slogan is still very appropriate for this: “Uniting minds, creating the future.” How to be more sustainable, more we will see that we can create a future with solidarity. “