Answer given by Mr De Gucht on behalf of the Commission
The European Union (EU) is committed to promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, in Vietnam as elsewhere.
In the case of Vietnam, as well as with other Southeast Asian countries, the aim of the EU is to establish a coherent policy framework for overall political and economic relations. The Commission and the High Representative are working closely to fullfill this aim and have a well coordinated view on how this can best be achieved.
The new EU‑Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) will include significant clauses on human rights, provisions on the rule of law and on the International Criminal Court. Such clauses will enhance EU leverage and will allow it to intensify dialogue and cooperation aimed at promoting human rights in Vietnam.
In order to ensure coherence in the way the EU pursues its broader foreign policy objectives, the Commission and the High Representative pursue a clear linkage between the new Free Trade Agreements (FTA) being negotiated and the PCAs, including human rights provisions.
Furthermore, trade liberalisation also has a positive contribution to make to human rights. The opening of markets creates efficiency, stimulates growth and helps spur development, thereby contributing to the implementation of fundamental human rights such as social and economic rights. FTAs include provisions on sustainable development which aim to engage the Parties in a cooperative process and support compliance of international labour standard commitments in domestic implementation.
Last but not least, the Honourable Member can be assured that EU human rights concerns will continue to be raised at the highest level by President Van Rompuy and the President of the Commission, as well as by the Commissioner responsible for Trade.