Important visit to Manila by European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen. Moving toward a free trade agreement
Article by Tommaso Magrini
An important visit to the Philippines by Ursula Von der Leyen took place in recent days. She met with President Ferdinand Marcos Junior at the presidential palace in Malacañang. Here Von der Leyen expressed her intention to give "a new impetus to bilateral relations between the European Union and the Philippines." At the top of the agenda: trade, ecological transition, digital innovation and security. On the first item, the two leaders announced their intention to pursue the relaunch of negotiations for an "ambitious, modern and balanced free trade agreement focused on sustainability." An ambitious plan, which follows the free trade agreements concluded by the European Union with Singapore and Vietnam in past years. A testament to the fact that Brussels has its sights set on Southeast Asia, a high-growth area that also allows for a diversification of trade and diplomatic relations in the Asian region from China. "The Philippines is a key partner for us in the Indo-Pacific region, and with the launch of this assessment process we are paving the way to take our partnership to the next level," von der Leyen said. "Together, we will realize the full potential of our relationship, creating new opportunities for our businesses and consumers, while also supporting the green transition and promoting a just economy." For her, the future free trade agreement will include ambitious commitments on market access, fast and effective sanitary and phytosanitary procedures, and the protection of intellectual property rights, including geographical indications." Also at the center, however, is the issue of sustainability, a dossier on which an announcement has already come during the visit. Indeed, Von der Leyen and Marcos launched the Team Europe initiative on the green economy, which includes an EU contribution of 466 million euros for "green" waste management. All under the Global Gateway program launched by the European Commission. Also planned is the transfer of skills, training and technology aimed at building an alternative plastic waste management model. "The Philippines and the EU are kindred partners because of our shared values of democracy, sustainable and inclusive prosperity, rule of law, peace and stability, and human rights," Marcos said instead. "The ongoing exchanges between President von der Leyen and myself, which began in Brussels last year, testify to our common desire to take our bilateral relations to higher levels," he added.