The European Commission has underscored the need for the Philippines to deepen economic reforms in order to make growth more inclusive.
European Commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs said: “I am pleased to see rapid economic growth in the Philippines in the past few years.”
Piebalgs has stressed that the European Union (EU) is ready to support the Philippines on its path to reduce poverty, strengthen the rule of law and support the peace process in Mindanao.
The EU has funded €18 million worth of development projects over the last 12 years aimed at improving laboratory facilities, enhancing control system for fisheries products, training of fish health management and quality assurance on export requirements to the EU.
To conform with the EU and internationally accepted standards, the harmonized sanitary and phytosanitary regulation projects were were implemented to ensure continued exports of Philippine fish products to the EU and securing many jobs in poor areas. Other EU-supported projects include trade integration, customs reform and competition administration.
Piebalgs is visiting Manila for the first time this week to explore ways on how to further advance bilateral development cooperation between the EU and the Philippines.
During his visit, Piebalgs will hold high-level meetings with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Sec. Teresita Quintos Deles, Socio-economic Planning Sec. Arsenio Balicasan, Energy Sec. Carlos Jericho Petilla and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Evan Garcia.
He will visit the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture supported by the EU Trade Related Technical Assistance (TRTA) project and meet with the Asian Development Bank president to discuss on how to enhance collaboration between the EU and ADB in Asia, Central Asia and the Pacific.
Over the last two decades, the EU has been a major development partner of the Philippines and has contributed P37 billion worth grants to combat poverty. The EU development assistance is closely aligned with the Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.
The main sector of the EU country strategy is health, providing budget support to the universal health care agenda of the government, free health care to the poorest Filipinos and improving facilities and health services.
The strategy has helped the reduction of child mortality rate by 50 percent and increased life expectancy of poor Filipinos.
The EU is working jointly with the Department of Health to address the remaining challenges particularly on maternal health and access to health services for indigenous people.
Other priority programs of the EU in the country include direct support to the good governance agenda of Pres. Aquino, trade integration and job creation with particular emphasis in conflict-affected Mindanao.
The bilateral EU-Philippine program is complemented by additional funding through civil society organizations to address specific aeas such as social issues, the environment, attention to indigenous peoples, human rights and migration with more than 30 ongoing grant projects.