MANILA, Philippines – The European Union (EU) supports a rules-based approach in addressing maritime disputes in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), EU leaders told President Benigno Aquino III.
Aquino met with European Council President Herman van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso on the sidelines of the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Vientiane, Laos, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement on Tuesday, November 6.
During the historic trilateral meeting, Van Rompuy confirmed that Brussels firmly supports “a rules-based and peaceful resolution of disputes in the said maritime area in accordance with international law.”
Aquino had announced previously that he would raise the issue both with the EU leaders and during the forum plenary.
The European Council President also congratulated the Philippine government for the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro and pledged more EU assistance on human rights, migration and the peace process in Mindanao.
Aquino thanked the EU for its active participation in the peace process as well of being a member of its International Monitoring Team.
Last October, the EU Delegation in Manilla committed P312 million to new poverty alleviation projects that will benefit 50,000 families displaced by the conflict in Mindanao.
Aquino also informed the EU leaders that the Philippines is working hard to address concerns regarding compliance with the STCW (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Convention on seafarers.
Over 347,000 or 25% of the estimated 1,371,000 seafarers worldwide are Filipinos, and almost 92,000 were employed by European-flagged vessels as of 2011.
Call for stronger Asia-Europe ties
In his address to ASEM leaders in Vientiane, Aquino called for enhanced economic ties between Asia and Europe and noted they will be mutually beneficial to both regions.
“Asia and Europe are both in a defining juncture in their respective development narratives. And it is to the mutual benefit of our two regions that we further strengthen our economic relations,” he said.
The Philippine President explained that “Asia needs Europe to realize its projected future of broad-based prosperity, just as Europe needs Asia to hasten its long-term economic recovery.”
“A reinforced Asia-Europe economic partnership, founded on the principles of equality and mutual respect, is therefore imperative,” he added.
Regarding the Philippine economy, Aquino stressed that the country “has not merely weathered the economic storm” but also “navigated into calm waters” and is poised to be the sixth fastest growing economy in the world between 2010 and 2050, citing a report by Knight Frank and Citi Private Bank.
“We have reclaimed the confidence of our people and of the international community,” said Aquino.
However, the President pointed out, “we must resist the temptation to be inward-looking. If any of us are to make even more progress on the economic front, we need a dynamic global economy that continues to facilitate inter and intra-regional trade and investment flows.”
Aquino concluded that Asian and European governments should take it as their duty “to make certain that whatever progress is made is felt equitably by every last one of their citizens.” – Rappler.com