Europe Day 2019
NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Franz Jessen (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2019 - 12:00am

It is a great honour for me to host my 4th and last Europe Day reception in the Philippines.

Four years: with happy times, with interesting times and, occasionally, also with challenging times.

The EU, the world’s second biggest economy and the biggest trading power in the world, is a staunch promoter of the international rules-based system. The rule of the strongest is not for us. Within the EU, we work things out between member states through shared objectives, negotiations and agreements. Our companies work within the existing regulations written jointly by 28 MS, they don’t work to the drumbeat of the strongest.

Outside the EU, we promote a similar rules-based model. We have 140 missions across the world that are all engaged in promoting cooperation within the international rules-based system – be it security cooperation, cooperation on global issues such as climate change, economic cooperation, we seek to promote mutual interests based on mutual respect.

It is gratifying to see that Filipinos appreciate the EU model. We have 800,000 Filipinos living in the EU; we have 300,000 Filipinos seafarers working on EU flagged ships.

Looking back at the past four years, I note that we did get some things right: the PCA was signed last year, our development assistance is back on track, and the foundations of our relationship remain strong. We can still do better, and I hope that during the years to come we will together fully benefit from the many shared interests that we have.

The EU business community in the Philippines continue to do good work, in their own interest and in the interest of the country. Throughout my time here it has been a pleasure to work with not only the ECCP, but also the national chambers of commerce within the EU family and the Philippine business associations. Our business communities are doing a fantastic job in bringing us closer together.

Since I arrived in 2015, three new EU diplomatic missions have been established – Hungary, Poland and Sweden. We are now 15 up from 12.

This increase is a tangible reflection of the EU’s increased interest in the Philippines and of course of the increased weight of the Philippine economy and of its diplomacy.

Working with my 14 national colleagues and their staff here in Manila has been a privilege. Together we are strong, and I am sure you can imagine that many of our internal discussions are lively – with issues being looked at from 14 different angles. One of my roles is to draw the comprehensive picture when presented with the 14 angles, always fascinating. In this effort I have greatly appreciated the efforts of my own staff, colleagues, who all are committed to bringing the EU closer together and closer together with the Philippines.

Looking back, I note that the EU during the past year more and more frequently has appeared in headlines here in Manila. The greater recognition of the EU is welcome. And I am satisfied to see the increased awareness of the values for which the EU stands for. We are proud of our values, we don’t impose them on any partner, and we don’t hide them.

On a personal note, it is an incredible time to be in Manila, seeing the country up close, when it is going through a rapid transformation, questioning conventional wisdoms, and facing its history in new ways. This has sparked many interesting discussions and many reflections over the past three years.

Looking forward, I am confident that the Philippines will do well. I pin much of that confidence to the young, ambitious, increasingly better educated workforce that will join the job market in the years to come.

It is the task of the Philippine government to unleash that great potential. The EU continues to stand ready to work with the Philippines, with President Duterte and his government to channel this great potential into further sustainable economic growth and to together promote a rules-based system, where the voices of all countries are fully respected: a system which in my view serves both our interests best.

I will now like to bring a toast for President Duterte wishing him success, good health and a long life.

* * *

(Speech of European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen during the Europe Day reception held on May 9, 2019)

EUROPE DAY 2019
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