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World | National

Philippines, EU sign new framework for partnership
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - After seven rounds of intense negotiations in Manila and Brussels since February 2009, the Philippines and the European Union (EU) signed on Wednesday a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) that aims to further advance their bilateral cooperation.

The PCA is an umbrella framework which covers the areas of politico-security cooperation, human rights, counter-terrorism, promoting trade and investment, development cooperation, education and culture, energy, transport, and migration.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario signed on behalf of the Philippines, while EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice President Lady Catherine Ashton signed on behalf of the Union comprising 27 member-states.

“I believe the PCA provides an opportunity and basis for the Philippines and EU to work closely together in addressing real challenges such as the global financial crisis, migration, the pursuit of development goals, expanding trade and investment, improving development cooperation, and promoting international peace and security, and human rights,”  del Rosario said after the signing ceremony in Phnom Penh at the sidelines of the security-centered 19th ASEAN Regional Forum.

"With the Philippines, Europe has a long historical relationship. We share many common beliefs such as on human rights or on democracy. The level of trust between the Philippines and the EU is such that sensitive political issues are already part of our daily work, be it cooperation on counterterrorism, non-proliferation, or the peace process in Southern Mindanao, where the EU is a willing and engaged partner," said Ashton.

Both parties expressed optimism that the signing of the bilateral agreement will pave the way to more enhanced cooperation as it points to a more concrete and comprehensive framework that will guide the future directions of Philippines-EU relations on the basis of mutual benefit.

The EU is a vital economic and political partner of the Philippines. 

Trade with the EU totalled $10.396 billion in 2011. The Philippines received a total of P2.5 billionin development assistance from the EU in 2011. 

Philippine exports to the EU include coconut oil (crude), electronic micro assemblies, electrical and electronic machinery/equipment/parts, photosensitive semiconductor devices, storage units, static converters, other brakes and servo-brakes and parts, and digital monolithic integrated circuits. 

EU’s development assistance to the Philippines focused on health, trade and investment, good governance, human rights and climate action. Projects on indigenous peoples, conflict prevention, and promotion of peace also form part of EU cooperation scheme with the Philippines.

Both the EU and the Philippines believe that these statistics could increase with the signing of a framework meant to open up market opportunities in trade, tourism and investment both ways. 

Still, both foreign ministers admitted that these relations have the great potential to increase exponentially if provided the right impetus and incentive. 

The earlier cooperation agreement signed in 1980 had been deemed outmoded and insufficient to address current challenges and opportunities for the Philippines and the EU. There was a mutually recognized need to update that agreement so as to raise the level of cooperation between the two parties in the context of the 21st century.