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European Union assistance

Global European Unioncan have conditions – with audit, policy or business reasons. Much comes from public debate over here. Audit has to do with not wanting EU money to disappear without helping anyone except a few third-world politicians. I am pretty confident that modern audit practices in the EU keep things from happening like what some pro-Duterte trolls insinuated during the election: that EU money for Yolanda help went to Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party. If the Philippines were an important counterpart of the EU like Russia or Turkey, such allegations would have had serious diplomatic repercussions.

Policy reasons such as human rights are very important. There was a major change in thinking towards more progressive ideas in the late 1960s and early 1970s within the Western world. This was noticed even by President Marcos when the USA was under President Jimmy Carter. Bavarian Prime Minister Franz-Josef Strauss got criticized in the German Parliament for giving his friend Marcos a pistol. “We shouldn’t help dictators” said many socially conscious groups in the West. There is a bit of a backlash now with Trump, but the EU will still hopefully remain different.

Business reasons nonetheless still co-exist with policy reasons. One might call the EU hypocritical, but in a pluralistic society, multiple interests shape policy. So some development aid does indeed promote products and services from the donor country. If it is given, no problem, but spare parts can become a cost factor. Imagine getting an inkjet printer free, the kind that needs expensive ink. Expect that aside from the socially conscious groups in EU countries, there are the business groups that will argue: “we shouldn’t be just giving them money, we should earn something out of it also”.

There are NO dictates against sovereignty in any of these deals, as nobody is forced to enter into them. The EU likes to work with different kinds of treaties – starting with its internal treaties which indeed force the member states to give up some sovereignty in order to be part of a stronger whole. The Euro and the Schengen agreement are important aspects of the EU which not all member countries have joined. There are non-EU countries which have some degree of association with the EU: Switzerland, Norway and Turkey for example. Finally, most EU countries are NATO members.

GSP+ privileges for fruits and other imports of the Philippines was a measure to help, the strings attached merely adherence to human rights – freely agreed upon by the Philippines in 2014. No one will care too much if these privileges are cut in January 2018, except the Philippines. Some fruit companies in warmer parts of the EU, including Caribbean provinces of France, might rejoice. Most of what the EU public has seen so far is headlines about Duterte threatening the European Union. Does he really expect anyone to be scared? Annoyed maybe. Possibly into choosing other options.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

M√ľnchen, 21 October 2017

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