I am speaking on behalf of the European Union.
This years meeting of the Informal Consultative Process marks the end of the second three-year cycle of meetings that originated in the 1999 General Assembly resolution 54/33. The European Union considers it useful to reflect on the Process, to evaluate the achievements and to reflect on the future of the Process.
We consider that, in general, the Informal Consultative Process has contributed positively to the review of the annual report of the Secretary General on Oceans and Law of the Sea, and has facilitated the annual review in the General Assembly and strengthened the debate on these matters. ICP has allowed for a more integrated debate by bringing together experts that do not always have the possibility to meet within their respective specialised fora. The Process has contributed to identifying questions to be considered in the annual resolution. It has allowed for an early identification of politically sensitive issues and the raising of awareness on existing positions.
Some remarks may be made concerning the actual format and contents of the Process. The European Union feels that the issues on the agenda have at times been very broad, and not always focused enough for a fruitful interdisciplinary discussion. The discussions at ICP could be improved if information on the precise nature and focus of the presentations would be made available prior to the meeting. This would facilitate bringing the appropriate expertise in delegations.
Also, in spite of being a guarantee for a balance, the dual chairmanship may not always have contributed to the process. It could be suggested that this structure be reconsidered from the perspective of conference preparation and procedure.
The European Union is not sure whether ICP has indeed acknowledged the different competences of participating international organisations and has fully enhanced co-ordination and coherence within the UN and related international organisations, such as IMO, CBD, FAO and the RFMOs, as was its original mandate. The participation by international organisations in the debate on the matters they are competent upon has so far been somewhat unbalanced. While valuable contributions were made, we believe that the active participation and clear input by international organisations in the debate would be of great use.
The European Union appreciates the valuable contributions made to the Process by States, international organisations, RFMOs, regional seas programmes and NGOs. NGOs have assisted in introducing environmental considerations as a cross-cutting theme in other marine policies. We believe the Process would still benefit from the presence of more high level experts and qualified participants.
While there is an overall positive appreciation by the EU for the Process, some issues will need to be addressed when deciding upon the continuation of the process. In particular, we would like to draw the attention to the format of the agenda which leaves very little time for discussing the chairmens conclusions at the end of the meeting. Therefore more time is needed for the discussion of the conclusions.
The European Union attaches great importance to resolving the discrepancy that currently exist between the observer status of the European Community and its competences whether exclusive or mixed with respect to many issues that have been discussed in ICP. I wish to draw the attention of participants to the fact the European Community is a Contracting Party to the UN Law of the Sea Convention and the UN Fish Stock Agreement in its own right, and has thus accepted legal obligations with respect to oceans and law of the sea that are particularly relevant to ICP. We are happy that a practical solution could be found for this session.
In sum, Mr. Co-chairman, on the basis of the issues referred to before, the European Union would to support the continuation of ICP.