European Union open to explore possibilities under Duterte presidency
Rick Olivares (Philstar.com) - June 2, 2016 - 10:13am

BILIRAN Island, Philippines (Philippine News Agency) — The European Union vowed to continue existing projects even with the change of administration in the country, but said its lines are open to "explore new possibilities."

EU Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said his delegation has to "wait and see" the new administration's priorities.

"In the short run it will not affect very much with the project implementation. It may change as the new government may have different approach. Maybe things will change and we will have to wait and see," Jessen told reporters on the sidelines of the EU-funded evacuation center turnover here on Tuesday.

After their recovery projects for communities hit by Supertyphoon Yolanda in 2013, the EU has initially listed health, energy, employment, and human rights as next priority sectors.

"We are always excited with both the old and new governments and explore new possibilities," he added.

The relationship between the EU and the Philippines has started in the late 1970s through Europe's dialogue with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The deal was sealed through a signing of agreement in 1980.

For many years, this agreement on economic and political issues was the primary legal framework for EU relations with the Philippines.

In July 2012, officials signed the EU-Philippines partnership cooperation agreement to further engage and cooperate on a broad range of areas, including political dialogue, trade, energy, transport, human rights, education, science and technology, justice asylum and migration.

Since December 2014, the Philippines has enjoyed enhanced trade preferences with the EU under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

Negotiations for an EU-Philippines Free Trade Agreement were also launched on Dec. 22, 2015.

"The aim is to conclude an agreement that covers a broad range of issues, including tariffs, non-tariff barriers to trade, trade in services and investment, as well as trade aspects of public procurement, intellectual property, competition and sustainable development," the EU said in a statement.

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