EU to share maritime security info with PH amid rising tensions in Indo-Pacific

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 31) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union (EU) is ready to extend more assistance to the Philippines, including sharing data to beef up its maritime security, as she warned that the illegal use of force in the Indo-Pacific cannot be tolerated.

In a speech addressing the Philippine government in Malacañang, she expressed concern about the "rising tensions" in the Indo-Pacific, and stressed that the EU remains "very supportive of a free and open Indo-Pacific."

"The European Union underlines that the 2016 award of the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea is legally binding and that it provides the basis for peaceful resolving disputes between the parties," Von der Leyen said, referring to the tribunal ruling that largely sided with the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China in the West Philippine Sea.

The ruling, however, has long been rejected by China, with aggressive tactics not ceasing in the disputed waters.

In late June alone, the Philippines recorded another "dangerous maneuvers" from China, seeking to block the resupply mission of Philippine ships. A lawmaker also filed a resolution urging the government to raise the issue before the United Nations General Assembly.

READ: Hontiveros wants DFA to seek UNGA resolution to stop China's harassment in WPS

Amid the challenges, Von der Leyen said the EU is "ready" to boost its security ties with the Philippines, including "sharing information, conducting threat assessment and building the capacity of your national CoastWatch center and your coast guard."

The EU official also described the global geopolitical landscape as "volatile" and "more threatening" amid the continuous war between Russia and Ukraine.

"[T]he illegal use of force cannot be tolerated, not in Ukraine, not in the Indo-Pacific. Security in Europe and security in the Indo-Pacific is indivisible. Challenges to the rules-based order in our interconnected world affect all of us," she added.