RP and the European Union: Partners for a Better Future

Manila Bulletin, May 25, 2008 | Go to article overview

RP and the European Union: Partners for a Better Future


Since 2004, the same Philippine and European partners have been undertaking annually similar hands-on networking with high EU and RP officials as well as leaders in the private business sector and academe -- putting their expertise, ideas and experience together to bear on the challenge of maximizing RP-EU economic, social and political relations. Europe Day is celebrated on 09 May, when on that day in1950 the EU was conceived on the initiative of French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman who sounded the call for European countries to combine their coal and steel production under a single European entity, thus paving the way for what is now the powerhouse of 27 nations known as the EU.

Background of ASEAN-EU relations

As co-convenor of said series of Conference-Workshops, RPDEV has developed a network of European "assets" who live in the Philippines, do business here, and have raised their families among Filipinos. Notable are: ECCP President Hubert d'Aboville, a suave and eloquent Frenchman, who is married to an enterprising Cebuana lady; Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF) Country Representative Paul SchA[currency]fer, a hardworking Bavarian, whose better half is a competitive Filipina from Leyte, both of whom form one of the most helpful PhilippinesEU combinations in terms of people empowerment and poverty alleviation; and Henry Schumacher, who has been around in Metro Manila so long to merit the monicker "Mr. ECCP." Decades before the formal establishment of ASEAN-EU relations, the Philippines had a long history of relations with many of the individual EU members as well as non-EU countries. The Philippines established formal diplomatic ties with Austria, Belgium and the United Kingdom in 1946, Spain and France in 1947, and Germany in 1955, to mention some. The EC officially recognized in 1964 the Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the European Communities in Brussels. The EU's framework for cooperation with the Philippines is anchored on the EUASEAN Agreement of 1980 which served to spur the development of the multilateral as well as the bilateral relations among the nations involved.

The then European Economic Community (EEC) became the first dialogue partner to establish non-formal relations with ASEAN in 1972. Upon the recommendation of an ASEAN-EEC Joint Study Group, the Special Meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Manila proposed that ASEAN establish ties with the Council of Ministers of the EEC and the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) in February 1977. This move was motivated by the need of ASEAN to make representations to the Council against the growing protectionism of the EEC countries during the 1970s.

The EC-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur in 1980 effectively formalized relations between the Philippines and EC. In 1984, the Philippines-EC framework agreement for development cooperation opened channels for the implementation of EU development projects in the Philippines -- which continue up to this very day. Already, the EU has become one of the most effective supporters of the Philippines in our efforts to alleviate poverty, especially in the rural areas.

The Nuremberg Declaration and Asean 'Community'

On 15 March 2007, at the 16th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Nuremberg, Germany, foreign ministers of the ASEAN and EU laid the groundwork for deeper ASEANEU partnership by adopting the landmark "Nuremberg Declaration," which cemented 30 years of beneficial relations, and charted a roadmap for enhanced partnership between the two regional blocs. Consonant thereto, a "Plan of Action" is being implemented to move ASEAN-EU relations to new heights in the medium term (2007-2012). The same covenant defines the desired higher level of cooperation between ASEAN and EU in the critical areas of politics and security, economy, culture and society, environment, development cooperation, and other global issues confronting both Asia and Europe. …

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RP and the European Union: Partners for a Better Future
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