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Parliamentary question - E-002147/2017(ASW)Parliamentary question

Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the Commission

The Commission is engaged in high-level bilateral dialogues on maritime affairs and fisheries with key ocean players including Australia, Canada, China, Japan, New Zealand and the United States. The Joint Communication[1] on International ocean governance announced the Commission’s intention to upgrade these into ‘Ocean Partnerships’ over the next five years. In accordance with the Council conclusions[2], the Commission will examine the opportunity of Ocean Partnerships with key international partners on a case-by-case basis.

As regards China, it is one of several global actors in this field and potentially an important strategic partner for the EU. Oceans, fisheries and maritime affairs are gaining importance in the EU’s political engagement with China, for example as part of the 2020 EU-China Strategic Agenda for Cooperation and the EU Strategy for China. 2017 has been designated the EU-China Blue Year. On 2 June 2017, the Commission and the Government of China signed a joint press statement[3] to list and promote common activities.

The latest high-level dialogues on ocean affairs with China took place on 2 March 2017 (maritime affairs) and 31 March 2017 (fisheries). The Commission is ready to provide details of these and previous discussions through the usual channels on request.

At the dialogue, China expressed its strong interest in ‘Blue Cooperation Partnership’ with the EU, covering areas such as the blue economy, climate change adaptation, improved ocean governance, marine environmental protection, Arctic issues, ocean pollution and acidification, and maritime safety.

After necessary procedural steps, the Commission will take a position regarding this proposal and identify the areas of interest for the Union regarding the partnership.