Spain: Working holiday visa deal announced

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Spain's President Pedro Sánchez meeting in Madrid. Photo: Supplied/Fernando Calvo/RNZ.

The number of young New Zealanders and Spaniards who will be able to travel and work in each other's countries has increased from 200 to 2000 after a meeting between the two countries' leaders.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Spanish President Pedro Sánchez have just met in Madrid.

The leaders last year signed a joint declaration of strategic partnership between the two countries.

Ardern says the boost to the Working Holiday/Youth Mobility Scheme reflects the strength of the relationship between Spain and New Zealand.

"New Zealand and Spain are great friends, with many shared values. The meeting today gave us the chance to discuss how we can continue to strengthen our ties through trade, co-operation in areas of shared interest and our people. I look forward to hosting President Sánchez in New Zealand in the future," says Ardern.

The leaders discussed deepening trade and economic links between the two countries and agreed a "high quality" deal between New Zealand and the European Union would "play an important role in creating opportunities for New Zealand and Spanish businesses in Europe and the Indo-Pacific".

"I shared with President Sanchez my view on what a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and New Zealand could represent. It would allow us to showcase sustainability and climate in a trade agreement - an issue the EU cares deeply about," says Ardern.

Ardern and Sanchez discussed regional issues in the Indo-Pacific and the war in Ukraine.

They also officially launched the "Global Values Partnership" which is a "reflection of the shared vision between Spain and New Zealand for the world that the countries want to shape together".

The partnership is based on the desire between the two countries to support a "rules-based international order through greater and better cooperation, including multilaterally".

The leaders also agreed to adopt an action plan on seabird conservation "to strengthen cooperation on concrete projects to protect seabirds including the endangered Antipodean albatross whose migratory patterns include the area in which New Zealand and Spain operate".

Speaking to reporters after their meeting, Ardern says Spain has "long been supportive" of a trade deal between New Zealand and the EU as they saw the opportunity to create a "gold standard", embedding sustainability and climate awareness into any deal.

"And we talked about what we can do to make sure that we get that agreement over the line with other EU members," she says.

France, with its desire to protect its own domestic agricultural industry, has pushed back hard on a deal with New Zealand. Ardern had this message ahead of her meeting with President

Emmanuel Macron overnight NZ time.

"If you can't sign up to an agreement with New Zealand, then who can you, because we're demonstrating how and why it's so important that we put into action, all those values that France has been promoting, for instance, around the climate."

In the closing stages of the negotiations, she says the "nitty gritty" details are for ministers to hammer out; her role is to "make sure that those leaders ensure that their negotiating teams know how much this agreement means".

The aim is to get a "commercially meaningful" and high quality deal, and it is "not a given" it will be concluded this trip.

"We are here to keep the momentum up around the negotiations and putting a lot of effort into what has been roughly four years of negotiations," Ardern says.

"It does demonstrate these can be very protracted, and that's because we are seeking the best possible deal that we can get for our exporters in a very difficult environment."

While in Madrid, Ardern will address NATO in an "intervention", having been invited to attend alongside other Asian partners.

She is interested in giving New Zealand's perspective on the Ukraine conflict, but also hearing from European leaders who've either visited Kyiv recently, or who are in regular communication with President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Ardern, like Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, has now received an invitation to visit Ukraine, but it's not one she'll be able to take up, mainly due to "back-to-back" travel commitments over the next month.

"But my key message back to the leadership in Ukraine would be that our support will continue regardless of a visit or not," she says.

"New Zealand is standing in solidarity with Ukraine, and I hope they have seen that throughout ongoing support."

Ardern will attend the NATO summit overnight Wednesday New Zealand time; it will be a "closed shop" in terms of media access to the leaders' speeches but she said New Zealand's "fiercely held independent foreign policy" will be a key focus.

"And that continues to this day, despite the very contested environment that we are within, but it will be important for me on that stage to articulate those independent values and what that means with a conflict like the war in Ukraine."

Ardern will deliver a speech, likely focused on the Christchurch Call to eliminate extremist content online, at a conference focused on democracy-affirming technologies.

The Christchurch Call will also be on the agenda when Ardern meets with Emmanuel Macron, as well as New Zealand/EU trade negotiations and the war in Ukraine.

-RNZ/Katie Scotcher.

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