JAKARTA, 9 August 2018 – ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi and EU Ambassador to ASEAN Francisco Fontan jointly welcomed the first-ever ASEAN-EU Cooperation and Scholarships Day held as part of the ASEAN Day celebrations at the ASEAN Secretariat on 8 August in Jakarta.

The event also featured the launch of the third edition of the EU-ASEAN Blue Book which provides an overview on development cooperation between ASEAN and the EU and its Member States.

 The ASEAN-EU Cooperation and Scholarships Day is a half-day information fair aimed at increasing the awareness of on-going EU-ASEAN development cooperation and scholarship opportunities offered by ASEAN, the EU and its Member States. It featured over 20 exhibitors, including EU-ASEAN Cooperation projects, as well as EU Member States and ASEAN Member States which engaged the public in interactive discussions on scholarship opportunities.

 Dato Lim, Secretary-General of ASEAN said, “Educating young people, especially through scholarships, provides them with exposure of a global perspective and equips them to better anticipate the challenges of the future. Especially in bridging economic, political and socio-cultural issues relating to ASEAN, the EU as well as the rest of the world. This directly contributes to fostering young minds that will join the work force with intellect, confidence and poise. Good talent means our region can continue to attract quality foreign direct investments that will boost regional economic growth, which we expect to achieve 5% this year across ASEAN.”

 On his part, Ambassador Fontan said, “The EU and ASEAN are the two most advanced regional integration projects in the world. Today we have a wonderful occasion, bringing together young people and the academic community. We can also see many of the impressive initiatives of EU cooperation with ASEAN. Ranging from support to regional economic integration to higher education and student mobility for ASEAN, I believe our efforts will contribute to an ever stronger partnership between the two regions.”

 The ASEAN-EU Cooperation and Scholarships Day also highlighted the topic of higher education, which is one of the thematic areas of EU-ASEAN cooperation. The EU Support to Higher Education in ASEAN Region (SHARE) programme has to date awarded over 500 scholarships to students in ASEAN, which comes in addition to other scholarship schemes, such as ASEAN International Mobility for Students (AIMS), the ASEAN University Network (AUN) and the ASEAN Credit Transfer System (ACTS). SHARE also engages in policy dialogues with education ministries in ASEAN Member States and is working on a possible student exchange and credit recognition system among ASEAN higher education institutions. In addition, the European Union and its Member States provide support for ASEAN students to take advantage of opportunities to study in Europe, for instance through Erasmus+. In total, more than 4000 ASEAN students travel to Europe on scholarships funded by the EU and its Member States each year.

In his remarks, Ambassador Tan Hun Seng, Singapore’s Permanent Representative to ASEAN, said “As the new country co-ordinator, Singapore looks forward to working closely with the EU to further broaden and deepen ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations. ASEAN-EU cooperation has strengthened and expanded significantly, but there is still tremendous untapped potential. Both sides should leverage on each other’s strengths to identify new and promising areas of cooperation such as connectivity, smart cities, cybersecurity and e-commerce.”

 EU funding for ASEAN regional development cooperation programmes amounts to about EUR 30 million annually. This comes in addition to EU bilateral cooperation with individual ASEAN countries (which includes more than €2 billion in grant assistance) and the assistance of individual EU States to ASEAN and its Members States.

 The other EU-ASEAN main development programmes support political and security cooperation, economic programmes boosting ASEAN economic integration (ARISE+), as well as programmes on overall policy dialogue and supporting farmers, disaster management (AHA-CENTRE), the fight against climate change and peatland protection including haze mitigation in particular.

 The event was attended by representatives of the ASEAN Secretariat, members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, EU Member States, ASEAN dialogue partners, international organisations, and civil society representatives, as well as around 1,500 visitors of the general public including students, lecturers, academics, and university staff.

 The EU-ASEAN Blue Book 2018 is available online here.

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