Việt Nam central partner of EU in its Indo-Pacific Strategy: Ambassador

May 09, 2024 - 08:00
Ambassador of the European Union to Việt Nam Julien Guerrier penned an article on the commemoration of European Day (May 9)
Ambassador of the European Union to Việt Nam Julien Guerrier. — Photo from the Delegation of the European Union to Việt Nam

*By Ambassador of the European Union to Việt Nam Julien Guerrier

On May 9, the European Union is celebrating “Europe Day”, commemorating the visionary statement made on May 9, 1950 by Robert Schuman, then Foreign Minister of France.

Only five years after the end of World War II, Robert Schuman was calling for the peaceful unification of Europe, so that such devastating wars amongst ourselves become a thing of the past.

This has succeeded: the European Union has ensured peace for its citizens, but also prosperity and freedom. Principles such as individual rights and freedoms, democratic governance, rule of law and a decent standard of living for all citizens are all deeply anchored in our society. We are “United in Diversity”.

There is peace in the EU, but there is war around us, in Ukraine, in Gaza and in other parts of the world. I see no better occasion than this day, to remember Robert Schuman’s own words: “World peace cannot be safeguarded without the making of creative efforts proportionate to the dangers which threaten it.”

On its part, as a global responsible player, the EU is committed to uphold the fundamental values and interests that we share with many people around the world. The challenges that we are facing today encourage us to work closely together with the international community to help stabilise the world and ensure the respect of international law.

“Europe Day” is an opportunity for us to commemorate past achievements, but also to look ahead at how we can shape our European future together, and inspire partnerships to forge beyond the borders of Europe.

More than ever, the EU is keen to pursue its "Strategic Autonomy" and shape its foreign policy on its own terms. We are reaching out to Asia with a strategy on connecting Europe and Asia, boosting connectivity that is sustainable, rules-based, and comprehensive.

The EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific adopted in 2021 demonstrates the EU’s recognition of the growing importance of the region and its commitment to reinforcing its presence and cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners.

Việt Nam is a central partner in this strategy. In this sense, we are proud that our bilateral relationship has developed so strongly and vividly across all areas of cooperation over the past decades.

The EU as an economic partner

The EU-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) has uplifted our commercial links to unprecedented heights, with an increase of our trade of some 40 per cent since its entry into force in 2020.

The EVFTA has also contributed to improving Việt Nam's attractiveness for Foreign Direct Investment in the eyes of EU and non-EU investors. The EU has is the 6th biggest Foreign Direct Investment partner of Việt Nam among some 100 countries investing into the country. Data from the Ministry of Planning and Investment indicates that the EU has a total stock of investment of approximately 28 billion euro with around 2,450 projects. EU investors continued to invest an additional 800 million euro into Việt Nam in the period January–September 2023 against a global trend of decreasing long-distance investments.

The EU as a development partner

The EU Global Gateway Strategy to invest in sustainable infrastructure is benefiting Việt Nam, with the EU and its Member States being a major ODA partner of Việt Nam, actually the biggest donor in grants. The EU alone has currently an ongoing project portfolio of close to EUR€300 million in grants with another €160 million in the pipeline. Priorities are sustainable green growth, decent work and responsible business, as well as good governance, rule of law and human rights.

To implement these projects, the EU is working closely with national authorities, including a number of strategic Ministries and other state partners at central, provincial, district and commune level, and with civil society and non-state actors.

The EU attaches a profound importance to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in particular to civil and political rights, environmental rights, workers’ rights and children’s rights. This is why we are supporting Vietnam in the area of justice reform and access to justice, giving great importance to the role of national and international non-state actors. Their contribution to society and sustainability is invaluable and should be further recognized and encouraged. We welcome Việt Nam's encouraging progresses on women, children and LGBTQ+ rights, and hope for further advances in these and other Human Rights areas, especially during Việt Nam's tenure on the UN Human Rights Council.

The current largest programme of the EU is to strengthen Việt Nam's energy transition process and provide technical assistance to Government counterparts with a total funding of €142 million.

The EU as a climate action partner

As part of the Global Gateway strategy and together with its Member States in a “Team Europe” spirit, the EU also actively supports the implementation of large-scale projects like the first hydro-pumped storage in Bác Ái in Ninh Thuận Province. This initiative stands for sustainable and trusted connections that work for the people and the planet while helping to tackle the most pressing climate change challenges.

These projects contribute to the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JET-P) with Việt Nam, for which the International Partners Group coordinated by the EU together with the UK, has pledged €15 billion to support Việt Nam on its path towards net zero emissions in 2050. In the past months, Vietnam has successfully established the JET-P Secretariat and launched the JET-P’s “Resource Mobilisation Plan” together at COP28 in the presence of Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Now we will continue to work hard in order to implement the Resource Mobilisation Plan, on specific projects and by addressing the development of regulatory frameworks and of infrastructure such as smart transmission grids, power storage, solar and offshore wind power.

Climate action is at the centre of EU policy, both at home and abroad.

The EU as a security and defence partner

Security and Defence have been key priorities of the EU’s engagement with our partners led by the EU High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell. Regarding our cooperation in this domain, I am grateful that Việt Nam contributes with military personnel to the EU Training Mission in the Central African Republic, and with our discussions on maritime security. The EU presence and interest in the region’s stability was underlined last month with the port call of a French frigate in Đà Nẵng.

“Europe Day” reminds us that people that had fought against each other can decide to turn the page, embrace each other again, and build a shared future of peace, prosperity and freedom. Let us build on the achievements of the deep and broad partnerships that the EU and Việt Nam have developed so far, to engage further and build an even brighter future of cooperation for our mutual benefit. — VNS