The first seeds of the idea of the European Union were sown on May 9, 1950, by then French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman. Hence, the date is now celebrated as Europe Day.

The relationship between Japan and the EU has entered a new phase as the 63rd anniversary of Europe Day is marked this year, with the two sides beginning negotiations last month toward further political and economic cooperation through a framework agreement and a free trade agreement.

EU Ambassador to Japan Hans Dietmar Schweisgut believes the EU and Japan will both benefit from the two accords, and that they are essential to boost growth for both parties. Schweisgut said the two tracks of bilateral negotiations will cover a comprehensive range of issues, from tariffs to cooperation on global and sectoral issues.