Celebrating 60 years of friendship

NOTES FROM THE EU DELEGATION - Luc Véron - The Philippine Star

Year 2024 marks a significant milestone as the European Union and the Philippines commemorate 60 years of diplomatic relations. As the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines, I am honored to mark this momentous occasion, reflecting on our joint accomplishments, the challenges we have surmounted and the promising future ahead. In celebration of this historic event, the EU Delegation has planned an array of diplomatic and cultural events throughout the year, ensuring the anniversary receives the recognition it rightfully deserves. The festivities kicked off on Jan. 12 with the illumination of the iconic globe at SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City, adorned with the emblem of the 60th year of diplomatic ties between the European Union and the Philippines.

Since the EU and the Philippines have established formal ties in 1964, we have become a reliable partner of the country. It is fair to say that our journey has not been without challenges. Over the past decades, the global landscape has witnessed shifts in political dynamics, economic uncertainties, international security crises and, more recently, a global COVID-19 pandemic that temporarily paralyzed society as well as the global economy. However, in these times of crisis, the resilience of our partnership has shone brightly. The EU has stood by the Philippines, offering support and solidarity in the face of adversity, reinforcing the belief that true friendships are forged in the crucible of shared challenges.

As Ambassador, I find it imperative to recognize the pivotal role that diplomacy and dialogue have played in nurturing our enduring relationship. The EU and the Philippines have consistently fostered open and constructive conversations to address concerns and find common ground on issues of mutual interest and global significance. Our relationship has matured into a multifaceted partnership that extends beyond mere diplomatic ties. What began as a formal acknowledgment of our shared values and commitment to democracy has blossomed into a dynamic collaboration embracing political engagements, trade, development cooperation, cultural exchange, education and research partnerships and a mutual dedication to addressing global challenges, from addressing climate change and environmental conservation to upholding the rules-based international order. This collaboration received a significant boost in 2018, when the EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement entered into force, formalizing our bilateral engagements in the aforementioned areas.

Allow me to highlight some key facets of our robust bilateral relationship that have benefitted Filipinos and Europeans alike over the past years. The Philippines has taken advantage of trade liberalization under the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) since 2014, which has provided a significant contribution in the sustained economic growth and improved labor market and employment conditions since then. The EU has continuously supported the peace process in Mindanao from the start and is still one of the biggest peace and development partners in Mindanao. In the aftermath of Super Typhoons Yolanda in 2013 and Odette in 2021, the EU demonstrated its solidarity with the Philippines by providing swift and substantial humanitarian assistance. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU provided financial assistance and medical support to help the Philippines address the health and socio-economic impact of the pandemic. This list is, of course, not exhaustive.

The strength of our bilateral relationship was highlighted last July by the first-ever visit of a European Commission president to the Philippines. President von der Leyen underlined that she came here to accelerate a new era of cooperation. She announced that the Philippines and the EU would urgently sit down and jointly assess a restart of the negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement and launched the Green Economy Program to boost our joint efforts in environmental conservation and the fight against climate change. She further declared that we would work together to turn the Philippines into a digital hub, based on the newly established cooperation between the European and the Philippine Space Agencies, and to establish a sustainable critical raw materials value chain. She stressed also the need to uphold the rules-based international order by increasing cooperation in the area of security. In the spirit of this anniversary, her visit has proven that there is much to be optimistic about the future of EU-Philippine relations. My President could not have said it better when she indicated that “the Philippines and the European Union may stand at the opposite sides of the world, but our destinies are linked more than ever before.”

To sum up, the 60th anniversary of EU-Philippine diplomatic relations is a momentous occasion that calls for reflection, celebration and renewed commitment. Our partnership has weathered the tests of time and overcome challenges, emerging stronger and more vibrant. As the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines, I am proud to be part of this journey and look forward to the continued growth of our friendship in the decades to come.

As we look to the future, the EU-Philippine relationship stands poised for further growth and collaboration. By harnessing the collective strengths of our regions, we can create a more resilient and sustainable world for future generations. Together, we can navigate the evolving global landscape and build a future that reflects the enduring friendship and shared values that have defined our relations for the past six decades.

*      *      *

Luc Veron is the Ambassador of the European Union to the Philippines.

vuukle comment


  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with