Philippines and EU renew ties in the Second Joint Committee Meeting
- The Second Joint Committee Meeting between the Philippines and the European Union was convened on 26 April 2022, in Makati City, Philippines. The Joint Committee was held using a hybrid format wherein participants were represented both physically and virtually.
- The Philippine delegation was headed by Hon. Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro, Acting Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the EU Delegation, by Mr. Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service. They were also joined, physically and virtually, by representatives from Philippine government agencies, the European Commission, and EU Member States.
- The Joint Committee reviewed the on-going bilateral cooperation under the Philippines-European Union Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and discussed possible future cooperation initiatives.
- The Second Joint Committee built upon the outcome of the three subcommittee meetings (on Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation; Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights; and Development Cooperation), held virtually on 29 January, 5 February and 19 April 2021, respectively, and the discussions between Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. and EU High Representative Josep Borrell at the sidelines of the ASEAN-G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting last year in Liverpool, United Kingdom, which included bilateral issues and ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations.
- The Joint Committee reviewed the implementation of the PCA and a broad range of topics including the current situation in the Philippines and the EU, sectoral cooperation in a number of areas, and geopolitical developments in Asia and Europe.
- As concerns recent regional security developments, the EU and the Philippines agreed on the need to find peaceful and inclusive solutions to conflicts while respecting principles of international law and the UN Charter. Both delegations discussed the adoption of the relevant resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly Emergency Special Session on Ukraine and the Human Rights Council (resolutions ES-11/1 of 02 March 2022, ES-11/2 of 24 March 2022, ES-11/3 of 06 April 2022, and HRC 49/1 of 04 March 2022) which condemned the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The EU and the Philippines renewed their call for an immediate cessation of the use of force and a withdrawal of all Russian military forces from the territory of Ukraine. International humanitarian law must be respected and safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine must be allowed. The EU and the Philippines agreed to continue to work together closely and stand up for the international rules-based order, the principles of sovereignty and non-aggression as well as for a peaceful diplomatic solution, as enshrined in the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.
- The Philippines and the EU discussed the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific. Both sides agreed to build on and reinforce synergies between both strategies in order to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with all partners in the Indo-Pacific region. The Philippines underscored the Outlook’s priority areas for cooperation namely, maritime cooperation; connectivity; economic and related areas; and the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030. The EU highlighted the priority areas for EU action identified in the strategy, including sustainable and inclusive prosperity; green transition; connectivity; security and defense; and human security..
- On maritime security, both the Philippines and the EU expressed concern over unilateral actions that endanger peace, security and stability and the international rules-based order. Both sides underscored the importance of abiding by international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its dispute settlement mechanisms, and recalled the Arbitration Award rendered under UNCLOS on 12 July 2016. The two parties agreed to further explore modalities for strengthening cooperation on the full scope of maritime matters.The Philippines’ proposed the establishment of a sub-committee on maritime cooperation, including the possibility of expanding cooperation on maritime jurisdictions, security, ocean governance, shipping, seafaring, among others.
- The Philippines and the EU likewise discussed sectoral cooperation in areas such as the Environment and Climate Change, Disaster Management and Preparedness, the fight against Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, Connectivity, and Science and Technology and discussed how to enhance collaboration in these areas.
- The two sides noted the completion of the 4th Monitoring Mission for the EU’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences-Plus (GSP+) in the Philippines from 28 February to 4 March 2022. During the mission, relevant Philippine agencies and EU institutions engaged constructively regarding the former’s commitment to implement effectively the 27 core international conventions on good governance, labor, human rights and the environment.
- The Philippines and the EU reaffirmed the two sides’ commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, as stated in the Partnership and Cooperation agreement while recognizing the need for tangible and measurable progress in some areas of concern as highlighted by the High Commissioner of Human rights in her report and updates. The EU reaffirmed its support for the Joint Programme between the Philippines and the United Nations (UN) and the Philippines Government’s commitment to its operationalization. The Philippines will host the next sub-committee meeting in the second semester of 2022.
- The EU reiterated its commitment to peace and development in Mindanao, and announced a number of programs that aim to support local capacities. The Philippines acknowledged that the EU is a valued partner for the latter’s continued support for the country, particularly for the six grants which cover the promotion of renewable energy, good governance, justice reform, peace and development, and improvement of the country’s trade performance and competitiveness. The Joint Committee took note of the signing of the Financing Agreements for the Bangsamoro Agri-Enterprise Programme (BAEP) and the National Copernicus Capacity Support Action Programme for the Philippines (CopPhil) in December 2021.
- In the margins, the Philippines and the EU reviewed the preparations for the EU-ASEAN commemorative summit and the next Plan of Action, and the development of the ASEAN-EU partnership during the Philippines term as ASEAN dialogue coordinator.
- Referring to the situation in Myanmar, the Philippines and the EU reiterated the need for implementation of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus of 24 April 2021 in its entirety in order to pave the way for engaging all stakeholders towards national dialogue and reconciliation. The Philippines took note of the appointment of an EU Special Envoy for Myanmar. The EU underlined the Special Envoy’s readiness to coordinate closely with the ASEAN and UN Special Envoys in support of their efforts to bring about a resolution to the crisis in Myanmar. The two sides likewise reiterated support for the ASEAN Chair’s Special Envoy to Myanmar.
- The next Joint Committee meeting will take place in Brussels in 2023.
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