|ASEAN, EU FMs pose for a group photo at the meeting__Photo: VNA
Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son has made a series of recommendations on measures to step up cooperation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) while attending the 24th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) in Brussels on February 2.
Acknowledging positive progress in the two regional groupings’ strategic partnership, the minister stressed the need for resolute and effective implementation of decisions made by leaders at the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in 2022, particularly regarding economic, trade, investment, sustainable development, and maritime cooperation. He also underscored the importance of fostering new growth drivers such as digital transformation, energy transition, green economy, and circular economy.
Son went on calling on remaining EU countries to swiftly ratify the EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) and further enhance the effectiveness of existing cooperation frameworks, including the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA). He proposed that the EU support Vietnam in implementing its Resource Mobilization Plan (RMP) for the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP).
It is necessary for ASEAN and the EU to coordinate efforts to ensure peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, to strengthen multilateralism, and to promote dialogue and cooperation, thereby reinforcing an open, transparent, inclusive regional structure based on international law with ASEAN at the center, said the diplomat.
The minister reaffirmed Vietnam's and ASEAN's stance on the East Sea issue, urging EU countries to support ASEAN’s and China's efforts in fully and effectively implementing the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) and building a substantive, effective Code of Conduct (COC) in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
At their biennial meeting, the two blocs underscored the importance of their strategic partnership established during Vietnam's ASEAN chairmanship in 2020, while also acknowledging the positive progress in the relationship over time. Currently, the EU stands as ASEAN's third largest partner in terms of trade and foreign direct investment, while the latter is the former's third largest trading partner outside Europe.
Participating ASEAN FMs considered the EU as one of the bloc’s top strategic partners with positive contributions to the ASEAN Community-building process. Meanwhile, their EU counterparts affirmed their support for ASEAN's centrality and wished to enhance the sides’ comprehensive cooperation and regular dialogue and consultation, as well as to continue negotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) with remaining ASEAN member countries following the EU’s FTAs with Vietnam and Singapore.
ASEAN and the EU agreed to effectively implement the joint statement of the 2022 commemorative summit and the action plan for 2023-27. Their priority areas include economy-trade-investment cooperation, the connectivity and self-reliance of supply chains, climate change response, food and energy security, digital economy, innovation, green economy, and green services, aiming at the establishment of an ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement in the future.
Amidst increasing complexity, instability, and conflicts, both agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation in maintaining a peaceful and stable environment for development. They emphasized the importance of multilateralism, compliance with international law, dialogue and cooperation promotion, and peaceful handling of disputes and conflicts.
The FMs also reiterated the importance of ensuring peace, stability, security, and safety of maritime navigation and overflight across waters, including the East Sea, based on international law, especially the UNCLOS.
Concluding their meeting, ASEAN and the EU adopted a joint statement.
While in Brussels on February 1 and 2, the Vietnamese FM had separate sidelines meetings with Luxembourg Deputy PM and FM of Xavier Bettel, Portuguese FM João Gomes Cravinho, Cyprus FM Constantinos Kombos, and Australian Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs Tim Watts. Son also met with his Bangladeshi counterpart Hasan Mahmud, and Secretary-General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Salman Al Farisi.- (VNA/VLLF)