The Foreign Service Institute, in cooperation with the Office of European Affairs (OEA) of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), organized the Lecture Forum on Philippines-EU and Philippines-Belgium Relations, held at FSI on 11 April 2012. The guest speaker was Ambassador Francois de Kerchove, Director of the Foreign Minister’s Cabinet at the Belgian Foreign Ministry. In attendance were DFA and FSI officers and staff, including the current batch of new foreign service officers (Batch XIX) taking the FSO Cadetship Program at FSI.
Ambassador Kerchove gave a brief outline of the European integration process and highlighted some of the current issues and challenges confronting the European project, particularly with regard to economic integration. The present crisis facing the Eurozone, according to Ambassador Kerchove, just demonstrates the importance of enhancing commonality of macroeconomic standards as well as the mechanisms for governance in the areas of public finance and fiscal policy among the members of the single-currency bloc. Ambassador Kerchove asserted that the leaders of the European Union (EU) are fully committed to saving the Euro despite the recent spate of skepticism over the wisdom of continuing with monetary union.
In the area of defense and security integration, Ambassador Kerchove underlined the strategic partnership between the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The EU and NATO play complementary and mutually-reinforcing roles in promoting regional and international peace and security, and the fullest involvement of both EU and NATO members is essential in achieving this goal. Ambassador Kerchove made special mention of several threats that need to be addressed by the EU-NATO partnership: terrorism, cyberattacks, and illegal and uncontrolled migration.
The longstanding relationship between the Philippines and the EU is expected to further strengthen with the recently-signed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). This bilateral agreement updates and builds on the 1980 EC-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement and defines Philippines-EU relations based on a policy agenda and a framework that take into account present realities affecting the relationship. Furthermore, the PCA enables the Philippines and the EU to engage in policy dialogues on a wider range of issues – from political, economic, to social, cultural and scientific issues.