EU sees Việt Nam as key partner in region: official

February 24, 2023 - 16:16
The purpose of the Europe Parliament Foreign Committee delegation's visit to Indonesia and Việt Nam was to reaffirm Europe Union (EU)’s interest in enhancing bilateral relations with Việt Nam and also furthering the EU-ASEAN strategic partnership
Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs David McAllister (centre) and Ambassador of the European Union to Việt Nam Giorgio Aliberti (left) at the press briefing in Hà Nội on Thursday. — VNS Photo Trọng Kiên

HÀ NỘI — The European Union sees Việt Nam as an important partner to uphold and reinvigorate a rules-based international order, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs David McAllister, told local media on Thursday.

He also affirmed that Việt Nam was a key partner of the European Union in the region for its active role and function as the gateway for Europe to ASEAN, during the press briefing held in Hà Nội at the end of the EP’s delegation tour to Indonesia and Việt Nam on February 21-23.

The purpose of the visit was to reaffirm the Europe Union (EU)’s interest in enhancing bilateral relations with Việt Nam and also furthering the EU-ASEAN strategic partnership. During the visit, the delegation met with representatives of the National Assembly, the Government, and the Party on several issues of mutual concern, including political security, trade, energy, and human rights.

Việt Nam was one of the two ASEAN countries with which the EU has an ambitious free trade agreement, David McAllister noted, adding that the Europe-Việt Nam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was a significant step in solidifying the partnership.

Việt Nam was the largest trading partner of the EU among ASEAN countries, and European companies are one of the largest foreign investors in Việt Nam, McAllister remarked.

He said he was looking forward to the entry into force of the Europe-Việt Nam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA). The EP was waiting for the ratification of this deal from EU member states as only 12 countries had adopted it, and the Chair said he was encouraging European counterparts to move forward on this issue, and the Vietnamese counterparts “have made it very clear how important this is.”

With regard to political security, the European side noted the ramifications of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, including its impacts on long-term stability and peace in the Indo-Pacific and Southeast Asia, and advocated for a stronger defence of the multilateral system and respect for the United Nations charter.

David also expressed appreciation towards Việt Nam for valuable humanitarian aid for Ukraine.

Regarding the South China Sea issue, the foreign committee’s chair said the situation was “far from stable,” and the EU welcomed Việt Nam’s efforts to work with ASEAN to resolve the conflict in the South China Sea and to negotiate the adoption of a binding Code of Conduct.

“The European Union strongly supports the principle of freedom of navigation and valid diplomatic solutions to international conflicts,” the EP official noted.

"We like to see Việt Nam and ASEAN-led efforts to settle this business, and most importantly, this shows us once again how important it is that in our world, we follow an international rules-based order," David said.

The EU also valued the participation of the Vietnamese military personnel in the EU’s training mission or the Central African Republic, and expressed interest in closer cooperation in maritime security, cybersecurity, and crisis management.

Regarding green transition, McAllister remarked that with 1,200km of coastline, Việt Nam is particularly vulnerable to losing land, coastal settlements and infrastructure to sea level rise.

The EU appreciated Việt Nam’s ambitious objective of net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and together with international partners, launched the Just Energy Transition Partnership worth US$15.5 billion with Việt Nam.

Giorgio Aliberti, Ambassador of the European Union to Việt Nam, said transition is a “costly exercise and there would be some losers,” so we must also take care of the workers working in the fossil fuel sector.

“We know energy transition is not an easy process, we have to work together, we have the same issue in Europe. So we are facing the same challenges. And we are here to share our experience,” the ambassador shared, adding that we want to ensure that no one is a loser in this complex process.

On the issue of the yellow card that the European Commission (EC) has slapped on Vietnamese fisheries, the EP official acknowledged Việt Nam’s efforts to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing (IUU), including political commitments and implementation.

The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) of the EC has made a visit to Việt Nam in October last year to assess the state of the implementation, and it was agreed that a new assessment visit would be carried out this year to review the possibility to lift the IUU yellow card, McAllister noted.

EU Ambassador Giorgio Aliberti however said that we should not be too optimistic ahead of the visit because lifting the yellow card would be a long process, but at the same time, “we see progress going in the right direction, and in working together, we will get there.”

“It’s too early now to say when exactly, but it’s important to continue to cooperate,” Aliberti said.

On questions related to parliamentary cooperation, the EP lawmaker noted with pleasure that the National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ himself had said the Vietnamese parliament would be arguing within the ASEAN Inter-Parliament Assembly to work on EP’s wish to set up a liaison office in Jakarta as a first step towards a higher degree of cooperation between the two parliaments as EU and ASEAN have lifted ties to a strategic partnership last year. — VNS