The Philippine Embassy in Oslo today held a consultation with the Office of European Affairs, on policy directives and courses of action within the dynamic milieu of our diplomatic engagements in Norway and Iceland.
The OEA established the context of our general involvement in Europe and in Norway and Iceland as touching on the matters of regional consultations; a leveraged role for the Philippines in the ASEAN-EU; high-level visits by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and multilateral engagements involving the Philippines and Norway at the
Artic Council, Nordic Council, Black Sea Cooperation, and the European Free Trade Association or EFTA, of which Norway and Iceland are members.
Post emphasized that its mission
focuses on the huge potential of these engagements, especially as these touch on security and political cooperation, commerce, which includes investments in renewable energy, and labor and migration.
The continuing peace process in which Norway plays a major part will also be a major concern of Post.
On the matters of assistance to nationals, the embassy discussed its courses of action in the recent, separate accidents at sea in Norwegian waters which claimed the life of one Filipino seafarer, while four other Filipino seafarers were saved.
Seasonal workers in Norway are also a concern, as cases have surfaced involving young Filipino workers recruited for far-flung farms in Norway from agricultural schools in the Philippines.
On long term concerns, the embassy discussed the prospects for seafarers, nurses, and au pairs, and their continued work or cultural exposure in Norway.
On seafarers, Post will work with the Maritime Industry Authority or MARINA, and the Commission on Higher Education or CHED, on the March 2022 report prepared by all maritime industry stakeholders, which determines compliance with safety, training, and watchkeeping standards that may affect the 25,000 seafarers employed in Norwegian owned or flagged vessels.
This is part of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) review on the Philippine compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
The embassy also conveyed its plans to follow-up on a bilateral maritime agreement now pending with the Norwegian government.
Au pair reform was discussed, as the au pair program was deemed a necessity by stakeholders and a mutually beneficial arrangement between the au pair and the host family as long as the proper parameters are observed.
Post will continue to consult the stakeholders on conditions of work and cultural exchange aspects of the program to protect the welfare and rights of Filipino au pairs.
The mutual recognition of educational qualifications of Philippine nurses also remain a priority, to meet the continuing challenge faced by our nurses.
Lastly, the possibilities for more political consultations between the Philippines and Norway were discussed, as well as a first ever political consultation between the Philippines and Iceland.