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"EU-ASEAN Dialogue" tackles PH Dialogue Coordinatorship, challenges and opportunities ahead

Updated: Aug 14, 2021

Last modified:14 August 2021 | 11:08

The Philippines will be taking on the role of ASEAN Coordinator for Dialogue Relations with the European Union for the next three years, beginning in August 2021. To jumpstart discussions on the Philippines' role as dialogue coordinatorship, the European Union Delegation to ASEAN, with the support of the EU Policy and Outreach Partnership in ASEAN Countries (EUPOP ASEAN) and the Amador Research Services conducted a webinar titled, "EU-ASEAN Dialogue: What does the Strategic Partnership mean for EU-ASEAN Relations?"

The EU-ASEAN Dialogue webinar sought to raise public awareness on the strategic partnership between the EU and the ASEAN, to develop interest among sectors on EU-ASEAN relations, to build key networks that can facilitate more dialogues in the future, and to create a robust multi-sectoral engagement platform.

The webinar was graced and attended by EU Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Luc Véron. In his opening statement, Ambassador Véron stated that, "By their very nature, global challenges cannot be addressed by countries alone. The more regional organizations work together, the stronger we are collectively and the more robust the multilateral system becomes. The European Union wants to deepen its cooperation with ASEAN members to promote effective multilateralism able to address the challenges that we are facing."

The webinar also featured Hon. Maria Theresa P. Lazaro, Undersecretary for Bilateral Relations and ASEAN Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Igor Driesmans, EU Ambassador to ASEAN, and H.E. Kok Li Peng, Singapore Permanent Representative to ASEAN. The webinar was concluded by remarks from former Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Delia Domingo Albert.

Hon. Lazaro provided an insight on the Philippines' plans for the coordinatorship. Philippine Coordinatorship will adopt the theme "Building the Future Better," that will prepare the region "to respond effectively to current and future public health emergencies, including the fostering of innovation, research and development in science and technology, and allow the ASEAN to keep up with the fourth industrial revolution while preparing for post-pandemic recovery." The Philippines will also prepare and lead negotiations in drafting the new ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2023-2027. The Philippines will also be preparing for the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit to be held in Brussels in 2022.

Ambassador Driesmans expressed going above and beyond public diplomacy: "We have a very solid partnership with great potential but it is sometimes it is not enough to do all the things that we mentioned. We also need to make them known to a wider audience. In many ways, we are ASEAN’s closest partner but few people know about it. So communication and visibility should be part and parcel to everything we do."

As the previous dialogue coordinator, Singapore Permanent Representative to ASEAN H.E. Kok Li Peng shared her reflections on the importance of the EU-ASEAN relations, citing three observations of the role under Singapore's mantle: that the EU-ASEAN relations espouses the importance of openness, inclusivity, multilateralism, and respect for international law; that it is a shield against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; and, that it is conduit for frank exchanges on difficult issues.

The webinar was attended by more than 700 individuals across ASEAN and had garnered more than a thousand (and counting) views on Facebook. A recording of the event live-streamed on Facebook may be accessed here.

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