The European Parliament Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia and the ASEAN, headed by Chairman Dr Werner Langen, has successfully wrapped up a three - day working visit to Vietnam.

During their visit to Hanoi between 4 and 6 November, seven Members of the European Parliament (EP), including the two Vice Chairmen Marc Tarabella and Jeroen Lenaers, met with a wide range of interlocutors, amongst others with Mr Nguyen Sinh Hung - the Chairman of the National Assembly, the Committees of External and Economic Affairs of the National Assembly and the Standing Vice Chairman of the Central Committee's Commission for External Relations of the CPV. The delegation also exchanged views with the Vice Minister of Trade and Industry, the Minister – Assistant of the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Chairman of the General Confederation of Labour. In addition, Members had discussions with representatives of the European business community and civil society organisations.

Chairman Langen underlined that the visit took place in a wider context of enhanced bilateral relations where the European Union and Vietnam are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Most of European Union's Member States have ratified the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and the two sides have reached agreement in principle on the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement. These two instruments will be the key pillars of the bilateral relationship in the coming years. He added that the agreements, upon full enforcement, will bring potential benefit to both sides. It shows the shared conviction of the EU and Vietnam that trade is essential to growth, to the creation of jobs and to sustainable development. The Chairman recalled that both agreements require the approval of the EP.

Mr Langen emphasized the legally binding link between the Free Trade Agreement and the human right clause in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, and said that the European Parliament will pay particular attention to the human rights situation in Vietnam. In this regard, he highlighted restrictions in the fields of freedom of expression and freedom of religion and urged the Government to adopt a moratorium on death penalty.

The Members of the European Parliament appreciated the accomplishments of Vietnam`s economy over the past decades, praising the dynamic Vietnamese society as well as Vietnam's achievements of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in poverty reduction. They also underlined their wish to further support the efforts of the Government and the National Assembly in strengthening the rule of law and good governance. On climate change, Mr Langen welcomed Vietnam's recent contribution to the COP21 and encouraged Vietnam to commit to a more ambitious climate goal. He underscored the EU's readiness to support Vietnam's transition to green growth and to develop sustainable energy sources.

With regard to the current tensions in the South China Sea, Mr Langen reaffirmed the EU's firm stance that all parties concerned need to seek peaceful and cooperative solutions in accordance with international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and to continue ensuring safety and freedom of navigation.

Members of the European Parliament Delegation are grateful for the excellent programme and gracious hospitality given by the Vietnamese Authorities.