EU leader arrives Sunday amid rebalance in Europe
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is set to visit the country from July 30 to Aug. 1 in response to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s invitation during his trip to Belgium last year.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said in a statement on Thursday that Von der Leyen will be the first European Commission president to visit the country since the European Union (EU) was formalized in 1993.
“President Von der Leyen’s visit is hoped to bring the Philippines and the EU even closer, as both countries step up cooperation activities in trade, economic cooperation, development cooperation, maritime cooperation, climate and environment, space cooperation, digital connectivity, among other sectors,” the PCO said in its statement.
Mr. Marcos invited Von der Leyen to the Philippines when he attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-EU commemorative summit in Brussels, Belgium, last December.
The government expressed profuse thanks to the EU for recognizing the certifications of Filipino seafarers who were at risk of being disqualified from working on EU-flagged vessels.
The government is also expected to pursue talks to renew the country’s privileges under the EU Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) trade regime, which grants zero or low tariffs on thousands of products. The GSP+ privileges expire at the end of the year.
But the EU is also expected to shore up prestige and support amid an emerging political rebalance in EU member states, like Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Finland and Spain, where rightist or conservative parties gained unprecedented poll victories.
The rebalance emerged particularly in recent local elections after a surge of protests against EU policies on immigration, energy, environment and the Russo-Ukrainian war, among others.
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