President Benigno Aquino III and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy in Belgium this week.

Raises aid to 325 million euros

BRUSSELS — European Council President Herman Van Rompuy hailed the Philippines’ economic performance and continuing fight against corruption as he announced the European Union’s more than doubling its development assistance to the Philippines in the next six years.

“It is increasing from 130 million euros to 325 million euros with the focus on traditional and legal reform, sustainable energy and job creation,” Van Rompuy said in a statement read before the media after a bilateral meeting with President Aquino in the European Council office here.

“The fight against corruption remains a key issue. Democracy indeed goes well beyond elections and the rule of law and respect for human rights are in the heart of it,” he said.

In their discussions, Van Rompuy said they underlined the importance of the 2012 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which, “once implemented, will increase our engagement politically and economically and enhance cooperation in many areas such as migration or disaster risk and management.

“I look forward to strengthening our trade and investment relations. European Union is negotiating free trade agreements in the region and remains open to start further negotiations,” he noted.

Van Rompuy also highlighted the valuable contribution of Filipino migrants living and working in Europe.

“Filipino migrants sent 2.3 billion euros back to the Philippines in 2013. The European Union is the second largest source of remittances to the Philippines and the largest employer of Filipino seafarers. I thank you for your attention and I would like to thank again President Aquino for his visit to Brussels and to the institution of the European Union,” Van Rompuy said.

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