PH-EU concludes cooperation meeting, eyes support for country’s recovery from COVID-19 crisis

Published April 29, 2021, 6:04 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippines and the European Union (EU) had just concluded the first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Development Cooperation under the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) eyeing to prioritize support for the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) crisis.

“It was agreed that one immediate priority will be to support the Philippines’ socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” the EU and the Philippines said in a joint statement released a week after the conclusion of the April 19 meeting held virtually due to the current pandemic.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed ongoing cooperation and discussed strategic areas of cooperation over the next seven years, with a focus on promoting a green resilient economy, justice, and a peaceful society.

Both sides reflected on the outcome of the intensified cooperation over the past two years, which saw the conclusion and implementation of various programs amounting to over EUR110 million (about P6.3 billion) in the previous nine months.

Just a week before their meeting, the EU signed a EUR 4.5 million (about PHP261 million) grant agreement with the National Electrification Administration (NEA), in partnership with the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), to help energize and improve livelihoods for off-grid, marginalized and under-served communities in Mindanao.

Apart from discussing the numerous ongoing programs in areas such as support to the peace process and the development in Mindanao, renewable energy and energy efficiency, justice sector reform, and other thematic fields, including education and regional programs, among others, the two sides also reiterated the role and contribution of civil society in pursuing democratic governance.

The meeting allowed the two sides to exchange views on future cooperation priorities and cross-cutting issues for 2021-2027 and conveyed their interest in building cooperation and support to the peace agenda and the development in Mindanao, as well as the pursuit of justice sector reform.

New and important avenues of cooperation that will contribute to climate action and sustainable development in focal areas referenced in the Philippine Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), such as supporting the green transition in the Philippines, focusing on reduced carbon emissions, improving plastic waste management, and promoting green digital connectivity, among others, were also considered.

Furthermore, they reviewed lessons learned and operational matters to enhance cooperation and examined coordination mechanisms. Both sides agreed to streamline respective internal approval processes for proposed cooperation programs where possible, to enable a “more efficient collaboration” between the EU and the Philippines.

The EU reiterated that its cooperation aligns with the objectives of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 and underscored the importance of the Philippines as an essential partner in the region.

The first sub-committee meeting was co-chaired by Mario Ronconi, Head of Unit for South- and South East Asia at the Directorate General for International Partnerships of the European Commission and by Finance Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and EU Ambassador to the Philippines Luc Véron led the opening of the meeting.

The Sub-Committee on Development Cooperation was created during the first PH-EU Joint Committee Meeting under the Philippines-EU PCA, which took place on January 28, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium.