EU-Philippines: a maritime partnership

NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Luc Véron - The Philippine Star

The sea is of utmost importance to all of us. Over 80 percent of global trade is seaborne, two-thirds of the world oil and gas supply is extracted or transported by sea, up to 99 percent of international data transfers and communications rely on submarine cables. The Philippines, with its 7,000 islands and exclusive economic zone, as defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is four times larger than its land area, understands the significance of the sea better than most countries. The 50,000 Filipino seafarers serving on EU-flagged commercial ships only exemplifies the strong European Union-Philippines maritime partnership.

The Indo-Pacific region, in which we live, is a critical area for the global economy, particularly for the European Union. It encompasses some of the busiest shipping lanes, important fisheries, major ports, sea lines of communication and abundant natural resources. Key waterways – such as the West Philippine Sea, the Malacca Straits and the Babel-Mandeb Strait – are of vital importance to EU trade, with 40 percent of EU foreign trade passing through the South China Sea alone. Therefore, stability in the region is a shared concern and a significant area of cooperation between the EU and the Philippines. Maritime security is crucial for ensuring stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. It is a strategic interest for the EU, as it impacts not only the maritime domain but also areas such as growth, energy and transport, supply chains, tourism and access to marine resources and critical infrastructure.

The Indo-Pacific region presents various challenges, particularly in the South China Sea, for maritime security, including competing maritime claims, piracy and maritime crime, environmental degradation, cybersecurity threats and capacity-building issues. Addressing these challenges requires coordinated efforts from governments, international organizations and the private sector, including capacity building, information sharing and collaboration on maritime security issues. The EU is committed to being a valuable partner in these efforts.

The EU has adopted its Maritime Security Strategy in 2014 with the aim of preventing, deterring and countering security threats and challenges that affect the oceans and enhancing a rules-based order at sea. In the Indo-Pacific region, the EU has supported the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes in the region, including the Philippines’ request for the implementation of the Arbitration Award on the South China Sea, rendered under UNCLOS in July 2016. The EU and its Member-States have also played a leading role in the negotiations of the recently adopted “Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction” Treaty, known as the Treaty of the High Seas.

The EU and ASEAN have had a dedicated dialogue on maritime security cooperation, where best practices and lessons learned are shared. The EU’s Special Envoy to the Indo-Pacific recently discussed this topic with counterparts during his visit in the region, including in the Philippines. Additionally, the EU and the Philippines have newly established a Sub-Committee on Maritime Cooperation under the EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and maritime security will be a prominent topic in this annual meeting.

The EU is increasing its coordinated maritime presence in the vast Indo-Pacific space, including in Southeast Asia. The EU’s maritime capacity building initiative CRIMARIO (Critical Maritime Routes Indo-Pacific) aims to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness through information sharing, capacity building and training. The project utilizes the IORIS platform, a maritime coordination and communications tool, along with extensive training programs on maritime data processing, the project has gained cooperation from several Philippine maritime agencies who are utilizing the platform and have even established a national governance structure for it, making the Philippines a pioneer in the region.

In addition to capacity building through CRIMARIO, the EU also invites Philippine maritime officials to training seminars on maritime security as part of the Enhancing Security Cooperation in and with Asia (ESIWA) project. These seminars provide comprehensive information on EU maritime security priorities, policies and actors.

The significance of maritime security in the Indo-Pacific cannot be overstated. It plays a critical role in ensuring economic and political stability, preventing military conflicts and promoting global prosperity in the region. Recognizing this, the EU is committed to being a valuable maritime partner for the Philippines and the broader region. With its technical capacity, resources and political will, the EU is dedicated to working with regional partners to address maritime security challenges and contribute to a safe and secure maritime domain in the Indo-Pacific for the benefit of all.

*      *      *

Luc Véron is the Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with