Filipino Liberals Discuss Free Trade with EU

A seven-member delegation of the Liberal Party of the Philippines is currently in Brussels, Belgium to discuss "Free Trade, Open Markets and Liberal Democracy - Relations of the EU and the Philippines in the context of ASEAN," a relevant issue as talks about the Philippines' preparedness for the ASEAN economic bloc persist.

Representatives Teddy Baguilat, Joselito Mendoza, Jesus Sacdalan, Cesar Sarmiento, Niel Tupas Jr., Isidro Ungab and Mayor Donato Marcos flew to Brussels on October 7 for a four-day meeting with Members of Parliament from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe (ALDE) and Liberal International (LI). European Liberal Party (ELDR) President Sir Graham Watson welcomed the group and discussed with them the future of liberalism in Europe while LI President Hans van Baalen greeted them at the European Parliament and introduced them to the work of ALDE.

The delegation extensively discussed EU-PHL trade relations and the future of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) where the Philippines is a member country, with EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht. Issues on civil liberties, internet freedom, the economic crisis and climate change were also debated with MEPs Chris Davies, Wolf Klinz and Marietje Schaake, and best practices in networking and promoting active citizenship were shared, amongst others with Hans Stein and Wulf Pabst of FNF Europe, Wim Vandenbroucke and Jeroen Reijnen of ALDE, Didrik de Schaetzen of ELDR and Susanne Hartig of the European Liberal Forum (ELF). Philippine ambassador Vicky Bataclan organised a meeting with the Philippine community in Belgium.

The visit was organized by the Friedrich Naumann for Freedom (FNF). "The delegates not only had in depth discussions on EU-Philippine relations and on liberalism, they also did a sterling job in putting the Philippines firmly on the map with European decision makers. That is good for The Philippines, and also for the EU," said FNF Philippines Country Director Jules Maaten who accompanied the delegation to Brussels.