The European Union (EU) has expressed its willingness to work with the Philippines in addressing the effects of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and in disaster preparedness as the powerful regional bloc pushed for better relations with the country.
EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Veron made the statement as presented his credentials to President Duterte in Malacañang on Wednesday, February 10.
In his remarks, Varon told President Duterte that the EU is willing to have a productive political relationship with the Philippine government, notably to support the Philippines in its effort to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and its effort to restart its economy.
“The EU and its member-states will continue their efforts to contribute to the international response to the pandemic including by guaranteeing affordable and fair access to vaccines for all,” he said.
President Duterte has recently accused the EU of holding AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines hostage after the regional bloc introduced a new mechanism that allows its members to monitor and authorize vaccine exports. The EU immediately clarified that the new mechanism will not affect the Philippines.
Ambassador Varon told President Duterte that the EU is at the forefront of international efforts to fight climate change and share a strategic interest with the Philippines on the environment.
He noted that the EU has decided to cut further its emissions by 55 percent by 2030.
According to Varon, the EU is prepared to support the Philippines in case of natural emergencies like most lately following Typhoon Rolly and Ulysses.
“The EU is ready to work as well with the Philippines — with the Philippine government on disaster preparedness,” he said.
Varon said that the EU continues its participation in supporting peace and development in Bangsamoro through a comprehensive and inclusive approach.
He added that the recent signing of several financing agreements worth P4.7 billion will enable the EU to continue its unwavering support to the peace process which he described as a cornerstone of Duterte’s presidency.
“Mr. President, in the European Union, the Philippines and the Filipinos have a strong and reliable partner. In the coming years, building on these robust foundations, together we can take the EU-Philippine relations forward,” Varon said.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Varon said the EU is looking forward to engaging closely with the Philippines as the country is set to be the coordinator for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogue with the EU starting August this year.
Early this month, President Duterte expressed his wish for the ASEAN to be as powerful as the EU, noting how the latter has so much clout and can dictate on its member-states.