Backs region’s integration
THE European Union seeks to deepen its partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by working toward a free trade agreement with the region and committing financial support and expertise to the Asean integration efforts.
This new initiative stems from a Joint Communication between the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission.
The Joint Communication, titled “The EU and Asean: A partnership with a strategic purpose,” seeks to take EU-Asean relations to the next level by providing a more coherent framework for sectoral cooperation and by ensuring a sharper political focus.
“The partnership between the EU and Asean is crucial and we are determined to build on it and strengthen our political and economic cooperation,” said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini.
“From trade to security, from climate change to the rule of law, we have a deep cooperation and as the EU, we are supporting Asean integration. Deepening and broadening our relation with Asean is key for the EU’s Asia strategy,” said Mogherini.
To broaden relations with Asean, the EU listed the following proposals:
Take trade relations between EU and Asean to a different level and work toward an ambitious region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by building on bilateral agreements between the EU and Asean member states;
Instill connectivity by having an exchange of lessons learned and by mobilizing the financial means and expertise to support Asean efforts in the single market and by negotiating a civil aviation agreement;
Create a new policy dialogue on sustainable development and environmental issues such as climate change and;
Implement an extensive ‘package’ of new initiatives in the area of non-traditional security such as maritime security, disaster management and crisis response, transnational crime, training courses on preventive diplomacy, crisis management, mediation, the rule of law and election observation.
Strengthening relations between the two economic blocs was first agreed upon at the EU-Asean Ministerial Meeting in Brussels, Belgium last year. The strategic partnership was formally adopted on May 19.