President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived in Brussels, Belgium for a three-day working visit.
From the airport, the President proceeded immediately to the headquarters of the European commission to meet President Jose Manuel Barroso. The two leaders discussed bilateral issues of concern such as the Philippines’ compliance with the Standards Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention, the Philippines’ conformance with EU regulations to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF), the Philippines’ application with the EU Generalized System of Preferences and the EU’s proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Philippines.
The President afterwards had an audience with His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium at the Royal Palace in Brussels. During the meeting, he conveyed the Philippines’ desire to further expand bilateral cooperation with Belgium, particularly in the areas of trade and investments and tourism, within the framework of the 2013 Joint Plan of Action. The President took the opportunity as well to invite His Majesty to visit the Philippines once again. He extended the invitation to Princess Astrid, as His Majesty’s representative to the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency, to head an economic mission to the Philippines in 2015. It may be recalled that His Majesty King Philippe led an economic mission to the Philippines in 1996 in his capacity as Crown Prince.
The first day in Brussels of the President ended with a meeting with the Filipino communities in Belgium and Luxembourg at the Cathedral of St. Michel and St. Gudule.
President Aquino also met with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo. He keynoted the PPP Infrastructure Conference organized by the Department of Trade and Industry. He also held business meetings with the CEOs of Shell (UK), HSBC (UK) and Asia House (UK).
His engagements for the 2nd day of his stay in Brussels was capped by a policy speech at the Val Duchesse Castle on the theme “Philippine relations with the EU: Shared Values and Prospects for Cooperation,” in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Philippines-EU bilateral relations.