We join Filipinos in watching on tenterhooks the attendance of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the summit this week in Brussels, Belgium of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with the European Union.
This is the first meeting between ASEAN and EU member states at the latter’s headquarters in Brussels, with the Philippines designated as the former’s country coordinator—a role it will keep for two years—,to discuss its agenda in its Commemorative Summit with EU tomorrow.
The event coincides with the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the 10-member ASEAN and the 20-nation EU. Prior to the summit, the ASEAN-EU Business Council will also convene.
ASEAN, founded in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, is a political and economic union and has a population of nearly 670 million, while the European Union, the Organization of European countries was founded in 1993 in Maastricht, Netherlands to oversee their economic and political integration with a population of 447 million.
The President raised optimism for his countrymen in what he hoped would be “a productive and meaningful” summit when he said he would include the country’s priorities in the talks in Brussels, particularly in post-pandemic economic recovery, trade, maritime cooperation, and climate action.
“Although I am representing the Philippines, I am now also representing all of ASEAN. But nonetheless, as I have mentioned, Philippine interests will always enter into all my discussions,” Marcos said shortly before boarding his 13-hour-and-35-minute flight to Brussels.
Prior to the Commemorative Summit, Mr. Marcos will also attend the 10th ASEAN-EU Business Summit today, the President saying “These events will provide an opportunity to drum up economic interests once again and engagement for the Philippines in view of the presence of key business leaders in Europe at the event.”
We know the President will meet with several multinational firms to secure possible investments to the country, and will also hold bilateral talks with King Philippe of Belgium as well as other European countries, including Estonia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and the European Union.
As he had done in his state visits to Indonesia and Singapore and his official visits to the United States, Cambodia and Thailand after his inauguration on June 30, the President will also meet with the Filipino community in Belgium.
The 65-year-old President Marcos, on the sidelines of the summit, will also deliver the closing keynote at the 10th ASEAN-EU Business Council.
Like previous summits and meetings – most recently the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Bangkok—talk of the economy and of security issues affecting the regions and the rest of the world are top on the discussion plates.
In ASEAN, for instance, economic recovery following COVID-19 lockdowns and the situation in Myanmar were among the top issues heads of state and government tackled.
In Bangkok, economic leaders talked about economic recovery, as well as regional issues including Russia’s war on Ukraine and China’s movements in the Taiwan Strait.
The European Council has said the EU and its members will reaffirm their “commitment to the EU-ASEAN strategic partnership.”
Reason for guarded optimism.