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    Edmund Ho Hau Wah, Chief Executive of the Government of the Macau Special Administrative Region, paid an official visit to the European Commission and Belgium in June.

    The visit was Mr Ho's first visit to the European Union headquarters in Brussels since Macau's return to the Chinese Motherland in December 1999. The Chief Executive called on European Commission President Romani Prodi and External Relations Commissioner Christopher Patten to discuss the Macau Special Administrative Region's progress, namely its social development and economic situation, since the 1999 handover. Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Ant-nio Vitorino, a former under-secretary of Macau's pre-handover Portuguese administration, hosted a dinner in honour of Mr. Ho.

    Mr Prodi congratulated Mr Ho on Macau's smooth post-handover transition, which he said had been handled with skill and adeptness. The President of the European Commission reaffirmed that the 15-nation European Union wanted to assist Macau wherever it could and endorsed the proposed EU-Macau public administration training and legal co-operation programmes.

    During his five-day stay in Brussels, Mr Ho also held talks with members of the European Parliament and the Government and Parliament of Belgian. He also paid a courtesy call on Belgian Crown Prince Philippe and visited several business corporations and academic institutions.

    Officials of the European Commission said during the visit that Macau could play an important role as a European studies centre in Asia.



    The Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) has, "on the whole, got off to a good start", the European Commission says in its First Annual Report on the MSAR.

    The eight-page report was released in Brussels in July.

    According to the report, which was written under the supervision of External Relations Commissioner Christopher Patten, political life in Macau "continues to be conducted, as in the past, in a consensual way and the people of Macau are increasingly interested in the political and public management of the MSAR."

    The report also says that Macau's trade and investment regime "remains among the most open in the world," adding that the MSAR Government "has succeeded in sharply reducing crime, which has had a beneficial knock-on effect by boosting tourism."

    "It is clear that Macau is coming to terms with its new status in a calm and business-like way," the report points out, which also underlines the fact that Macau, as a free port, has maintained market economy principles" since its reversion from Portuguese to Chinese administration in 1999. The report also stresses that "at the social and cultural level, Macau remains an open and multi-faceted city."

    According to the report, the Macau Government under Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah "proved effective in setting up and adapting Macau's institutions to meet the needs of the MSAR," adding that the MSAR Government has simplified administrative steps and procedures and created a system for citizens to petition the public administration.

    The report also states that since the creation of the MSAR's first Legislative Assembly in 1999, the legislature "has achieved, under the presidency of Susana Chou, not only impressive legislative work, but has also adopted certain regulations governing its internal working procedures."

    The report also points out that the Government has successfully launched a gradual liberalisation process of important segments of the economy, namely in the gaming industry, telecommunications and satellite television services. It also says that Macau's law and order situation has shown "clear improvement," adding that the "good relations" between the European Union and Macau that existed before the 1999 handover have continued and developed since then.

    "In the field of intellectual property protection, the European Commission very much welcomes Macau's effort to develop intellectual property legislation," the report concludes.


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