Believing that the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) can still achieve more after 45 years of partnership, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. pitched three priorities the two organizations could work on.
Despite his hoarse voice due to cold, Marcos managed to amplify to the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels, Belgium the potential areas of cooperation the two political and economic unions can achieve.
These priorities are maritime cooperation, economic cooperation, and climate change action.
Effective application of UNCLOS
The President stressed that the regions must see "an effective application of UNCLOS to address the maritime disputes and geopolitical rivalries in the Indo-Pacific that truly realize the still distant aspiration for the Indo-pacific to become a sea of peace and prosperity for us all."
"I look forward to closer maritime cooperation between our blocs based on the intersection of priority areas between the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-pacific and the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, underpinned by ASEAN centrality, we are declaring respect and support for UNCLOS as a legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and seas," he said.
Closer economic cooperation
Marcos expressed hopes that the a closer economic cooperation both on bilateral and multilateral relations are maintained, especially amid economic recovery and the current threats on the supply chain.
"I hope to see the proposed Philippine-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) move beyond scoping negotiations soon," he said.
This as he encouraged the EU to "calibrate the scope and coverage of its proposed FTA, to what is currently possible for ASEAN to collectively agree on, so we can make concrete progress on the negotiations on the ASEAN-EU FTA."
The President said he is also looking forward to the "continued implementation of the PH-EU partnership cooperation agreement for the benefit of our peoples."
World must get together vs climate change
Lastly, the chief executive called on the EU and ASEAN member states to "get together" and "act now" against climate change, which, he said, is a "race against time to conserve and prevent habitat and biodiversity loss."
"The world must get together to fight the effects of climate change and to ensure sustainable development. Climate change threatens to radically transform for the worst many vulnerable ASEAN landscapes," he said.
Marcos particularly asked the EU to continue extending help to the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB), which manages the preservation of all 51 ASEAN heritage parks all over the region.
"There is no problem like climate change that is so global in nature that it requires immediate and united effort. We need to act now. We need to act together. We need to get it right," he said.