On 19 April 2021, the Government of the Philippines and the European Union (EU) held the first meeting of the Sub-Committee on Development Cooperation under the Philippines - EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) on a virtual platform. The meeting reviewed ongoing cooperation in areas such as peace and development in Mindanao, sustainable energy, and justice reforms. Both sides discussed the strategic areas of cooperation over the next seven years, with a focus on promoting a green resilient economy, justice and a peaceful society. 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 welcomed the opportunity for the Sub-Committee to reflect shared values and common principles. The aim was to promote further the Philippines-EU cooperation partnership with a view to strengthen sustainable and peaceful development in the Philippines.
Both sides welcomed the intensified cooperation over the past two years, which has resulted in the conclusion and implementation of various programmes amounting to over EUR 110 million (about PHP6.3 billion) in the previous nine months. Just last week, the EU signed a grant agreement amounting to EUR 4.5 million (about PHP261 million) 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.
Both sides discussed the progress of the numerous ongoing programmes 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 programmes, among others. Both sides also reiterated the role and contribution of civil society in pursuing democratic governance. In addition, lessons learnt and operational matters were reviewed to enhance cooperation, and coordination mechanisms were also examined. In this context, it was agreed to streamline respective internal approval processes for proposed cooperation programmes where possible, to enable a more efficient collaboration between the EU and the Philippines.
The EU and the Philippines exchanged views on the future cooperation priorities and cross cutting issues for the upcoming new programme cycle of 2021-2027. Both sides 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. Both sides also considered 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, amongst others.
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. Both sides agreed to closely link bilateral cooperation to the regional agenda under ASEAN. In this context, both sides are committed to addressing key challenges in the region by contributing to sustainable development, promoting regional integration, and enhancing the connectivity between Southeast Asia and the EU.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Mario Ronconi, Head of Unit for South- and South East Asia at the Directorate General for International Partnerships of the European Commission and by Undersecretary Mark Dennis Y.C. Joven of the Department of Finance of the Philippines. It was opened by H.E. Carlos G. Dominguez, Secretary of Finance of the Philippines, and H.E. Luc Véron, EU Ambassador to the Philippines.
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. With the launch of this Sub-committee, a significant step has been made towards a fully-fledged implementation of the PCA.