The European Union (EU) has committed to further strengthen partnership with the Philippines for the coming years, particularly boosting economic ties and promoting peace and progress in Mindanao.
Ambassador Franz Jessen, head of EU delegation to the Philippines, said EU will continue its strong ties with the Philippines to help the country unleash its potential.
“This is the time we think about the Philippines. This is the country with a great people, with great potential, and of course we are trying to work with you to unleash this potential and use it in the best possible way,” Jessen said.
“We started very far from each other. We located in different parts of the world. Over the last 25 years, what we have done this day, we have created a number of initiatives and activities that brought us together step by step,” he added.
The EU envoy highlighted developments between the Philippines and EU in the past six years of the administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Among these developments include the lifting of the European Commission (EC) air ban on all Philippine carriers, which allowed all Manila-based airlines to enter the European airspace as well as removing the country from EU’s Yellow Card fisheries rating with the government’s initiative to address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing which allowed Philippine fish products to enter EU market.
Jessen said that the EU had been aggressive in promoting peace and progress in Mindanao.
“We have many projects in Mindanao. We have a quite strong focus on Mindanao and also the peace process. In terms of development cooperation, I think we have a volume of €40 million ongoing projects in Mindanao. We look at health projects, maternity health, and job creation,” the EU envoy here noted.
The Philippines and EU also signed the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in 2012 to form wider relationship between the two parties, especially enhancing trade and investment relations through free trade agreement (FTA).
In fact, the Philippines and EU launched for FTA negotiations in December 2015, with first formal discussions being eyed next month in Brussels.
“We can be more ambitious looking forward so we move to FTA,” Jessen stressed.
“What we can do is to work with you through FTA, between governments, to make sure they understand what it takes to get more EU investments to the Philippines,” he added.