CLARK FREEPORT ZONE – The relationship between the Philippines and the European Union (EU) is beyond politics; it covers culture as well.
So says EU’s Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen when he came to Clark Freeport Zone on November 28, 2017. Jessen was in Clark to attend the opening ceremony of Mercedes-Benz Group Services Philippines’ (MBGSP) base in this economic zone.
Jessen addressed the media before the said inaugural ceremony, answering questions about EU’s position in the Philippines. EU, with other international bodies like the United Nations (UN), has been in a precarious relationship with the Philippine government since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his controversial drug war.
However, Jessen clarified that the ties between this country and the western bloc transcends politics. In fact, Jessen believes that the Philippines is the most suitable country for westerners, especially in terms of culture.
“Philippines is one of the countries that stands closer to us (Europeans) in values,” said the EU ambassador to the Philippines. Jessen might be referring to Philippines’ highly westernized culture, a product of Spain’s 300 years of colonization.
He further said that Europeans feel easily at home in the Philippines compared to other Southeast Asian countries.
Driven by Business Interests
More than its European-flavored culture, Philippines has a heightened business atmosphere.
European countries are the Philippines’ fourth largest source of imports this year, a study from EU says. Meat and dairy products are among the top goods that the Philippines is importing from EU.
As for tourism, Philippines welcomed 4.4 million European tourists in 2017 alone.
Filipinos, though, have a different reason why they come to Europe. The EU-Philippines Trade and Investment reports says “the number of Filipinos living in the EU as permanent migrants increased substantially by 14%.” These Filipinos chose to be migrants in Europe because of overseas work.