July 31, 2023
President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed their commitment to deepening bilateral relations between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) in a joint press statement at the President’s Hall in Malacañan Palace.
In his statement, the President underscored the importance of economic cooperation, particularly in revitalizing trade through the Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“I welcomed the conduct this year of the scoping exercises between the European Commission and the Philippines towards negotiations for a Philippines-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA),” he said, adding that the Philippine government experts will work with the European Commission in achieving a bilateral FTA.
President Marcos Jr. also announced that a grant worth €60 million (estimated at PhP3.6 trillion) has been concluded under a financing agreement on the Green Economy Program in the Philippines. The Program aims to support the Philippines in areas such as the circular economy, renewable energy and climate change mitigation.
Furthermore, he expressed his gratitude to the European Commission for their decision to extend the recognition of the Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) certificates issued by the Philippines, a decision that would directly benefit more than 50,000 hardworking Filipino seafarers onboard EU-flagged vessels.
For her part, President von der Leyen outlined various cooperation to be initiated between the two countries, especially since the EU serves as the 4th largest trading partner of the Philippines.
These include combatting the effects of climate change through the European Global Gateway to build sustainable infrastructure and the installation of ‘Eyes in the Sky’ using Copernicus satellites. This system would allow early warning of extreme weather phenomena and improve climate resilience.
She also mentioned EU’s plan to help transform the Philippines into a digital hub as part of the EU’s digital economy package for the Philippines that includes a possible extension of a submarine cable from Europe to Japan.
Moreover, she highlighted the close partnership to be initiated between the EU and the Philippines on harvesting critical raw materials through the resumption of talks on the PH-EU FTA, which she guaranteed will be extended across the whole value chain.
Furthermore, President von der Leyen expressed support for a rules-based order amid the challenges faced by the Indo-Pacific region and rallied behind the Philippines in attaining maritime security. She added that the 2016 award of the arbitral tribunal on the South China Sea is legally binding and provides a peaceful resolution for disputes between parties.
Concluding her remarks, President von der Leyen said that a roadmap will be implemented to bring the partnership to the next level.
Before the joint statement, both leaders witnessed the signing of a bilateral agreement on the Joint Declaration on the Green Economy Program between the Philippines and the EU.