Vietnam always attaches importance to developing relations with the European Union (EU) and its member states, and wishes to join EU efforts to make bilateral ties more practical and effective.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the statement at a reception for Vice President of the European Commission (EC) and High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton in Hanoi on August 12.

The Government leader expressed his delight at the developing multi-faceted cooperation between Vietnam and the EU, saying that Ashton’s visit and the upcoming by EC President Manuel Barroso will be an important momentum for fostering bilateral relations.

He suggested the EU ratify the Vietnam-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in an early date as well as support the early conclusion of negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

He also expressed his belief that the PCA ratification and FTA conclusion will create a strong development in the Vietnam-EU trade and investment relations.

PM Dung said he hopes that the EU will continue providing official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam and soon recognise Vietnam as a market economy.

For her part, Ashton said that her visit to Vietnam and the upcoming by President Barroso as well as regular meetings between the two sides are a vivid manifestation for the fine Vietnam-EU relationship and reflect her union’s desire to further tighten its relations with Vietnam.

She officially announced that the EU decided to increase its ODA for Vietnam by 30 percent in the next five years, saying that the decision, made as the EU is facing difficulties, shows the union’s wish to accompany Vietnam in its development path.

The EU is making every effort to accelerate the ratification of the PCA and the conclusion of the FTA with Vietnam , she said, adding that the two sides will actively work together to ensure that Vietnam will meet all criteria to get the market economy status from the EU.-VNA