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By Alah Soledad Sungduan

Stand Up for Life

Thursday, March 13, 2014

STUDENTS and faculty from the different higher educational institutions in Baguio and La Trinidad developed a better understanding about the European Union integration through a lecture given by former Belgium Ambassador Rafael P.M. Van Hellemont at the University of the Cordilleras auditorium.

Hellemont who played a very important role in the EU integration said EU is difficult to grasp. It is a unique combination of intergovernmental organization just like United Nations.

“EU is complex but it works and that is all that matters,” Hellemont added EU is a unique economic and political partnership among 28 countries. Founded by six member countries, EU is based on the rule of law that everything it does is founded on treaties agreed upon by all member countries.


European countries that are members of the union are all democratic and have respect for human drive and the system of the rule of law. Prospective members need to adopt the legislation and integrate in the society.

UC College of Arts and Sciences’ Social Sciences Department Head Sonia Gutierrez-Masaoay said the forum dubbed “The European Union: A Unique System of Political and Socio-economic Integration, Reflections of a Founding Member-State” has enlightened the audience about the integration of the European countries into a single, economic, and political organization.

“Everybody was well-informed of the intricacies of the creation of the Union as well as the honest reflections of the speaker on the actual operations of the EU,” Masaoay said.

Masaoay said the topic is significant in terms of the student’s full understanding of the creation and operation of EU. It also served as a preliminary discussion for the students who are mostly taking up the Political Science course in their major subjects such as Political Science 114 or European Government and Politics.

“The forum served as an eye opener for them who are living in a globalized, integrated community,” Masaoay added.

Benguet State University Social Sciences Department faculty Rachele de Guzman lauded UC for organizing such activity where they were updated with international trends and events making them understand the system more.

“We appreciate the insights shared by the speaker. It helped my students better assess the strength of the union as well as see its weaknesses. With the follow-up discussion in class, my students were able to identify benefits and loses that a country gets in joining this system and further assess its application in the Philippines,” de Guzman said.

Hellemont’s visit at UC for the forum conducted on February 18 was through the personal invitation of his good friend UC President Dr. Ricardo Pama whom he first met back in 1980.

Pama said Hellemont’s topic on EU integration is just timely for the expected integration of the ten countries located in South East Asia which will transform into an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.

“There must be something that ASEAN countries can lean from EU, the first block to integrate,” Pama said.

In his talk Hellemont also said that a political dialogue is important for projects that will be covered under ASEAN integration. He also suggested that that there should be common policies on how to address concerns on climate change.

Meanwhile, the Social Sciences department under the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) headed by Dean Dr. Miriam Janeo is set to hold another forum this month in observance of the International Human Rights celebration and Earth Day celebration in April.

The EU integration forum was attended by more than 200 students and faculty from UC, University of Baguio, Saint Louis University, University of the Philippines, Cordillera Career Development College, and BSU.

There are a lot of things that we can learn from the experts in a forum.

These learning will contribute to more understanding on issues that affect us such as this impending ASEAN integration which everyone should know.

May there be more forums on ASEAN integration so everybody will understand the impact of it especially to our nation.
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Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on March 14, 2014.


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