THE European Commission (EC) is expected to increase its focus on Southeast Asia after Germany took over the commission’s top post, German Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel said.

Ms. Reiffenstuel told reporters Tuesday that the commission is studying areas of interest it would like to pay more attention to in the region.

“We specifically identified ASEAN and its member states as a priority for us. We have been looking towards Asia for a long time, and ASEAN being an interesting region.”

The EC elected German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen as its 13th president in July.

Ms. Reiffenstuel said the European Commission is interested in the Philippines’ infrastructure program as well as connectivity between Europe and Southeast Asia.

“We call it the connectivity approach. We are interested in getting Europe and the ASEAN connected, but also to support the infrastructure of the relations between the ASEAN member states to connect them better.”

She said Germany has identified the commission’s relationship with Southeast Asia as a priority for its presidency, focusing not just on the bloc but on each member country.

“Let’s get there but not only look at ASEAN as a structure but ASEAN and its member states. They are so different. The ASEAN spectrum is so huge and each member country has its own strength and potential.”

She said the Philippines has a strong growth rate and improving ease of doing business.

Countries like Vietnam have been attracting European investment due to its incentives system and smooth business registration process, she said. — Jenina P. Ibañez