Answer – VP/HR – South China Sea – Permanent Court of Arbitration – E-004125/2017

The EU has in recent years taken a clear position with regard to maritime security and the situation in the South China Sea in the EU Maritime Security Strategy (June 2014), the EU Strategy on China (July 2016), in two declarations by the High Representative/Vice-President (HR/VP) on behalf of the EU (March and July 2016) and more recently in Council conclusions on Global Maritime Security adopted on 19 June 2017.

The tenets of this position are the following: commitment to a maritime order based on the principles of international law, in particular in the universal application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; respect for the freedoms of navigation and overflight; and a call to all claimants in the South China Sea to refrain from activities likely to raise tensions and to pursue the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.

The EU welcomes progress made in talks aiming at the adoption of an effective Code of Conduct between ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) Member States and China (implementing the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea).

In this respect, we take note of the agreement reached by China and ASEAN on 18 May 2017 on a framework for a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. As an example of its engagement in the region, starting this summer and during the next three years, the EU will co-chair with Vietnam and Australia the ASEAN Regional Forum Inter-sessional meetings on Maritime Security.