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Overview of ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations


1.        The ASEAN-EU dialogue relations were formalised when the 10th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM), which was held on 5-8 July 1977, agreed on ASEAN’s formal cooperation and relationship with the European Economic Community (EEC), which included the Council of Ministers of the EEC, the Permanent Representative of the EEC countries and the EEC Commission.

2.        The ASEAN-EU dialogue relations were institutionalised with the signing of the ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement on 7 March 1980, and EU has since become an important ASEAN Dialogue Partner. The dialogue relations have rapidly grown and expanded to cover a wide range of areas, including political and security, economic and trade, social and cultural, and development cooperation.


Political and Security Cooperation


3.        Over the years, EU has been actively involved in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which is the only inter-governmental forum aimed at promoting peace and security through dialogue and cooperation in Asia Pacific. EU has co-chaired a number of Inter-Sessional Groups (ISGs) on Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), and participated in the Inter-Sessional Meetings (ISMs) on Preventive Diplomacy. The regular ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meetings (AEMM) and EU’s participation at the annual ASEAN Post Ministerial Conferences (PMCs) contribute significantly to greater dialogue and exchange of views on key regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern.

4.        The adoption of the ASEAN-EU Joint Declaration on Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism in 2003 represents the continued commitment of both sides to closely engage each other in responding to the challenges of international terrorism and contribute to international efforts to fight terrorism. Pursuant to this commitment, both sides are currently implementing a three-year cooperation programme on border management (2008-2011).

5.        The ASEAN-EU dialogue relations reached a significant milestone with the adoption of the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership in 2007. The Declaration sets out the long-term vision and commitment of both sides to work together for common goals and objectives for the years to come. ASEAN and EU marked the 30th anniversary of dialogue relations with the convening of the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit in November 2007 in Singapore. At the Summit, the Leaders adopted the Joint Declaration which obliges both sides to work together to address inter-related challenges of climate change, energy security, environmental issues and other matters. The ASEAN-EU Plan of Action to Implement the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership, together with the Indicative List of Activities to implement the Plan of Action, was also adopted to initiate concrete steps and activities to move forward the ASEAN-EU dialogue relations.

6.        Following the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter and based on the strong foundation of the ASEAN-EU Partnership, there are currently 14 accredited Ambassadors to ASEAN from the EU Member States and the European Commission [1].  Other Member States of the EU will accredit their ambassadors to ASEAN according to their respective national laws and regulations. A special advisor has also been appointed as part of the  EC Delegation in Jakarta to strengthen the working relationship with ASEAN.

7.        The 17th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) was held on 27-28 May 2009 in Phnom Penh. The Meeting endorsed the Phnom Penh Agenda for the Implementation of the ASEAN-EU Plan of Action, which serves as an action programme to deepen and intensify cooperation in every field between ASEAN and the EU for the period of 2009-2010. Notably, the 17th AEMM marks the enhancement of ASEAN-EU dialogue relations with the signing of the Declaration on Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) by the European Union and European Community, in addition to the ASEAN Declaration of Consent to the Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia by the European Union and European Community. Through the declarations, both sides commit to the complete accession of the EU/EC to the TAC as soon as possible. 

Economic Cooperation

8.            EU is one of ASEAN’s major trading partners and a main source of investment flows into ASEAN. The ASEAN total trade with EU has grown from USD 186.7 billion in 2007 to USD 202.5 billion in 2008. The total EU FDI flows to ASEAN has also grown from USD 10.6 billion in 2006 to USD 12.4 billion in 2008. The number of tourists coming from EU countries also rose from 7.7 million in 2007 to 8.2 million in 2008. The ASEAN-Dialogue Partners (including EU) trade and investment statistic data can be accessed through

9.            In order to promote trade and investment flows between the two regions,  ASEAN and EU agreed on the Trans-Regional ASEAN-EU Trade Initiatives (TREATI), which is a policy dialogue mechanism/process in economic and trade related issues. TREATI will also include technical assistance and pave the foundation for the development of an ASEAN- EU FTA.

10.         Pursuant to the establishment of TREATI, various activities were undertaken during 2004-2009. They include, among others, workshops and consultations among the EU and ASEAN officials and business representatives on subject matters covering trade facilitation, investment, food safety, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and customs.

11.         ASEAN-EU economic relations are expected to be further intensified and strengthened with the launch of the ASEAN-EU FTA Negotiations in May 2007. A Joint Committee (JC) comprising senior officials was established to work on the modalities, work programme and time schedules for the FTA negotiations. The ASEAN-EU JC has since met seven times to further develop the details of the negotiations. Six Expert Groups were set up for Services and Establishment/Investment, Rules of Origin, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Customs and Trade Facilitation and Dispute Settlement respectively. However, to allow for reflection on the appropriate format for the FTA negotiations, the 7th Meeting of the Joint Committee for the ASEAN-EU FTA, which was held on 5-6 March 2009 in Kuala Lumpur, agreed to take a pause in the negotiations. 

Functional and Development Cooperation

12.         ASEAN and EU agreed on the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI), which is a policy dialogue mechanism/process for promoting the ASEAN-EU dialogue relations in non-trade areas. Following the introduction of the READI, ASEAN and EC organised a number of sectoral/experts consultations in trafficking in persons, information and communication technologies (ICT), employment, air transport, and climate change. Consultations on some other areas such as, energy, and science and technology have been conducted, while consultations on minerals, maritime environment and disaster relief, and animal health are being arranged. 

13.         EU actively supports ASEAN integration and community building efforts. Various cooperation programmes in a number of areas, such as standards, quality and conformity assessment, intellectual property rights, energy, environment, capacity building, and higher education were developed and implemented to support ASEAN’s goals and objectives. The EU has allocated an amount of EUR 70 million to the regional EU-ASEAN programmes for the period  2007-2013. The Programmes that so far have been identified are: (1) ASEAN-EU Programme for Regional Integration Support  Phase II (APRIS II); (2) ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB); (3) ASEAN-EU Programme on Statistical Capacity Building; (4) EU-ASEAN Migration and Border Management Programme; (5) ASEAN Project on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (ECAP III); (6) ASEAN Air Transport Integration Project (AATIP); (7) Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiating Capacity/Support to the ASEAN-EU FTA Negotiating Process; and (8) the Regional EC-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) Facility and Support to ASEAN Economic Integration.

[1]    The 14 accredited Ambassadors are from Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.

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