EU-Philippines free trade agreement: Negotiations to start
The Council on 16 November 2015 gave the go-ahead for negotiations to start on a free trade agreement with the Philippines.
The negotiations will be led by the Commission on behalf of the EU, in consultation with the Council's Trade Policy Committee. The Council encouraged it to take an ambitious approach. At the same time, the member states authorised the Commission to start negotiations in areas that fall within their competence.
In April 2007, the Council authorised the Commission to negotiate a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), of which the Philippines are a member. In December 2009 however, following the suspension of region-to-region talks, it decided to pursue negotiations with individual ASEAN countries on a case-by-case basis. The strategic objective of a region-to-region agreement was nevertheless maintained. In October 2013, the Council extended the scope of its negotiating directives to include investment protection.
The EU is currently negotiating with two ASEAN countries -- Malaysia and Thailand -- whilst talks with two others -- Singapore and Vietnam -- have concluded. The Commission will continue its efforts to launch free trade negotiations with other ASEAN countries.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, without discussion.