The relationship between the European Union and the Republic of the Philippines is a longstanding one, which has broadened and deepened remarkably in recent years, both bilaterally and through EU cooperation with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The EU-Philippines' partnership and cooperation agreement was signed on 11 July 2012 and is expected to enter into force in 2016.
High-level meetings take place periodically between the EU and the Philippines. President Aquino visited Brussels in September 2014 and High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini met with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines in August 2015. Senior Official Meetings (SOM) take place at regular interval to discuss political, trade and development cooperation issues.
Since 2007 the EU has supported the Mindanao peace process. In March 2014, the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on Bangsamoro (CAB). Since then, the EU supports the Parties in completing, implementing and monitoring the Agreement through various instruments. The EU remains one of the biggest foreign donors to Mindanao through a comprehensive approach using various instruments.
The Philippines, with its long-term past and predicted annual growth of 6-7%, is one of the region's strongest performers. Since December 2014, the Philippines benefits from EU GSP+ , a component of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences for developing countries. It offers additional trade incentives to developing countries already benefitting from GSP to implement core international conventions on human and labour rights, sustainable development and good governance. On 22 December 2015, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Philippine Secretary of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo agreed to start negotiations for an EU-Philippines free trade agreement (FTA).
The development cooperation and humanitarian assistance programmes of the EU (including emergency assistance) amounted to 230 million euros over the period 2012-2014. The total for the EU (Member States plus the EU) over the same period was 533 million euros making the EU the largest grant partner to the country. The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2014-2020 has an indicative allocation of 325 million euros (a 2.5 fold increase compared to 2007-2013) and has two focal sectors: inclusive growth through access to sustainable energy and job creation (225 million euros) and strengthening of rule of law through legal and judicial reform (95 million euros). Mindanao will be targeted as a priority. The Philippines is also eligible for EU thematic and regional cooperation programmes.
The EU on several occasions has provided humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters and conflicts in the Philippines. Following typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in November 2013, the EU deployed humanitarian and civil protection experts to the worst hit areas. The European Commission made available 40 million euros for relief assistance, early recovery and reconstruction to help the most affected communities.