October 27, 2023
ECCP at Work
The Philippines is nearing the conclusion of initial discussions for a free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union, signaling that formal discussions could begin on the bilateral agreement that is seen bringing greater market access and improved trade with the regional bloc. Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual on Wednesday said this as part of his speech about the government’s sustainability plans, where he also tackled plans to pursue strategic partnerships with other countries. “We are about to conclude the scoping discussions as a precursor to resuming our negotiations for an FTA with the European Union,” Pascual said during a forum organized by the Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines in Pasay.
The European Union will finance a number of environmental projects to help the Philippines achieve its ambitious target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2030. Philippine Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno and European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen signed the Financing Agreement for the Green Economy Programme in Brussels on Monday. According to the European Commission, the EU graint aims to finance Philippine projects that are “embracing the circular economy” such as reducing waste and plastic usage, ensuring water supply and wastewater treatment, promoting energy efficiency and deploying renewable energy. “The financing support from the EU will help the country in fulfilling its Nationally Determined Contribution commitment to reduce and avoid greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent by 2030,” Diokno said.
The European Union has expressed its support to the Philippines' goal of becoming a digital connectivity hub in Southeast Asia, according to a statement from the Department of Finance (DoF) on Thursday. The declaration happened at the first Global Gateway Forum hosted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen from October 25 to 26 in Brussels, Belgium, in the presence of Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who was part of the Philippine delegation. The Philippines and EU will partner on a Digital Connectivity Global Gateway Package with key elements on capacity building, regulatory or policy support, cybersecurity and enhanced cable connectivity. Expected to be launched next year, this package will also help address the digital gender gap in the country by empowering women in the digital economy.
The lending arm of the European Union (EU) has expressed interest in co-financing various infrastructure projects in the Philippines, according to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno. “The EIB has already started looking into the Marcos administration’s Build Better More projects that are aligned with the EU’s priority areas,” Diokno said. “These include climate, digital connectivity, sustainable cities and regions, and renewable energy,” he said. Diokno mentioned to the EIB the 197 infrastructure flagship projects, prioritized by the government, which the bank can co-finance.
The Commission has adopted a new Communication on Enhancing the European Administrative Space (ComPAct), which proposes concrete actions to help public administrations meet the needs of people and businesses across Europe. ComPAct is the Commission's first ever comprehensive set of actions to support the modernisation of national administrations and to strengthen their cross-country collaboration so that they can address common challenges together.
The Energy Efficiency Act, introduced by the Greens-led economy ministry, includes regulation for energy savings in public buildings, industry and fast-growing data centres across Germany, with the goal of a 26.5% cut by 2030 from 2008. With the new law, companies will be forced to draw up plans for energy savings but there will not be binding measures, said a spokesperson for the German Energy Efficiency Initiative, a network of companies that has been pushing for an ambitious energy efficiency policy. The group said it was doubtful whether the law would meet EU regulations or be enough for Germany to reach its 2030 climate goal of cutting CO2 emissions by 65% compared to 1990. Berlin hopes incentives to encourage more efficient and greener heaters that passed parliament earlier this month and expected rising carbon pricing will contribute to efficiencies.
In a statement, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, who led the delegation of Philippine senators in Spain, said they met with Spanish Senate President Pedro Rollán about developing a free trade agreement between the Philippines and the EU. During the visit, Mr. Rollán said it was crucial for Spain and the Philippines to continue collaborating on trade as both countries transition out of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Global Gateway Forum in Brussels, the EU signed an additional €500 million for global health reinforcing the financing partnership recently launched between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a further €134 million to increase local manufacturing and equitable access to quality, safe, effective and affordable health products in six African countries.
The Commission is setting out what the EU has done to promote and support the development and deployment of clean technologies, by reinforcing the Single Market, ensuring a level-playing field, supporting research and innovation, expanding its network of trade agreements, and mitigating the impact of external developments.
Achieving the recently agreed EU target of at least 42.5% renewable energy by 2030, with an ambition to reach 45% renewables, will require a massive increase in wind installed capacity with an expected growth from 204 GW in 2022 to more than 500 GW in 2030. While the wind power sector is a historical EU success story, its future growth path is faced with a unique set of challenges including insufficient and uncertain demand, slow and complex permitting, lack of access to raw materials, high inflation and commodity prices, unsupportive design of national tenders, increased pressure from international competitors and risks on availability of a skilled workforce.