Joint Co-Chairmen’s Statement


1.     Foreign Ministers of the European Union (EU) and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the European Commissioner for External Relations, the EU High Representative for CFSP and the ASEAN Secretary General met in Brussels on 27-28 January 2003 for the 14th EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, under the co-chairmanship of Greece, acting as Presidency of the EU Council, and Lao PDR as the ASEAN country co-ordinator for the EU-ASEAN dialogue. The list of Heads of delegation of the ASEAN and the EU appears as Annex I. The Meeting was held in the traditional EU-ASEAN spirit of cordiality, openness, and mutual understanding.

A Progressive EU-ASEAN dialogue

2.    Ministers reaffirmed the high importance they attach to the EU-ASEAN relationship, and agreed on the need to further deepen the EU-ASEAN dialogue as a fundamental building block for the strategic partnership between Europe and Asia. To this end, Ministers stressed their determination to further enhance their co-operation at bilateral, sub-regional, regional and multilateral levels.

3.    Ministers welcomed the significant progress made in the co-operation since the 13th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Vientiane in 2000. They reiterated that economic and development co-operation, as well as political dialogue and co-operation, are key aspects driving EU-ASEAN relations. In this respect, they welcomed the progress in these areas of co-operation, including positive developments in political and security co-operation and growth in two-way trade and investment between the two regions.

4.    Ministers reiterated the shared commitment towards peace and stability and welcomed the current co-operation between ASEAN and the EU in enhancing regional security through bilateral and multilateral channels, including the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). Ministers welcomed the increasing importance of the ARF for dialogue and co-operation on security issues in the Asia Pacific region. They encouraged the further strengthening of this Forum, in particular through a reinforcement of confidence building measures, preventive diplomacy and practical co-operation in tackling common threats and problems in keeping with the ARF’s principle of consensus and step-by-step approach. In this respect, they welcomed the convening of the first ARF Inter-sessional Meeting on Terrorism and Transnational Crime on 21-22 March 2003 in Karambunai in Sabah, Malaysia.

5.    Ministers encouraged further dialogue on issues of common concern. The dialogue between the two regions will continue to be conducted on the basis of partnership, respect for the equality of civilisations and the conviction that cultural diversity is an asset. In this context, Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, including the right to development and fundamental freedoms.

6.    Ministers recognised the further potential for enhanced co-operation across the board, including economic co-operation as a result of accelerated ASEAN economic integration and the forthcoming EU enlargement. They noted with satisfaction the significant progress made in the implementation of development co-operation activities within the dialogue framework, and looked forward to the full implementation of the activities set out in the 1999 EC-ASEAN Work Programme.

7.    During the retreat on the evening of 27 January, Ministers had extensive preliminary discussions on ideas for reinvigorating political, economic and social aspects of the relationship at regional, sub-regional and bilateral levels. In this context, the Commission reaffirmed its intention to issue a communication on a new strategy for EU relations with Southeast Asia in the first half of this year.

8.    Ministers discussed the priorities for future actions under the ASEAN-EU Co-operation Program to support the ASEAN economic integration process and to enhance ASEAN-EU co-operation in the economic and development co-operation areas, as well as information actions. ASEAN welcomed the EU programming mission to the ASEAN member countries and the ASEAN Secretariat to identify new co-operation activities to inject further momentum into the co-operation.

9.    Ministers agreed that future ASEAN-EU co-operation should contribute to new dynamism in the trade relationship including expanding trade and investment flows, closer co-operation on trade facilitation, market access and investment issues, and to foster greater understanding and co-operation on issues of mutual interest in order to make progress in the multilateral trade negotiations. They also agreed that future co-operation

should focus on non-traditional security issues, establishing channels of communication between the ASEAN Secretariat and relevant EU counterparts as well as environmental and cultural co-operation. This co-operation in areas of priority for both ASEAN and EU will be based on a practical and flexible approach, and will be jointly developed and implemented.

10.   Ministers noted the major outcome of the 8th ASEAN Summit, ASEAN Plus Three Summit and the ASEAN Plus One Summits with China, India, Japan and the ROK held in Phnom Penh in November 2002 as well as the 35th AMM/PMC and the 9th ARF in Bandar Seri Begawan in July-August 2002. The EU welcomed ASEAN efforts in ensuring the peace and security, deepening economic co-operation and integration, combating terrorism and transnational crimes, and strengthening economic linkages with ASEAN’s dialogue partners.

11.   The EU briefed the ASEAN side on the outcome of the European Council in Copenhagen concerning enlargement of the EU and on the most recent developments in European Security and Defense Policy. ASEAN welcomed the progress in the enlargement of the European Union and the greater political and economic role the EU is playing in the global arena.

12.   The Ministers welcomed the increasing political and economic integration in the two regions and expressed the conviction that these developments would contribute to further strengthening ties between Europe and ASEAN. ASEAN expressed a strong interest in drawing on EU’s experiences to further enhance regional economic integration within ASEAN. The EU reiterated its readiness to assist ASEAN in its integration process through appropriate and mutually agreed co-operation activities. In particular, the EU’s experiences offered a useful insight into this process.

13.   The Ministers also welcomed the launching of the Asia Co-operation Dialogue (ACD), with ASEAN countries playing the pivotal role that would promote Asia-wide co-operation and contribute to global economic development.

14.   Ministers discussed the rising threat of terrorism and strongly condemned the heinous attacks perpetrated in the last months. They reiterated their firm commitment to work together to combat terrorism under the leadership of the UN. To this end they adopted the EU-ASEAN Joint Declaration on Terrorism affirming their commitment to work together and to contribute to international efforts to fight terrorism.

15.   Ministers acknowledged that the establishment of the International Criminal Court is a positive development in the fight against impunity for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide.

16.   Ministers had a thorough exchange of views on developments in South East Asia and Europe. These discussions were held in a very open and free-flowing manner and covered a wide range of issues of mutual interest.

17.   The Ministers welcomed the signing of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea during the 8th ASEAN Summit on 4th November 2002 in Phnom Penh. They agreed that the Declaration would further contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability in the South China Sea.

18.   Ministers had a frank discussion of the situation in Myanmar. They reiterated their appreciation of and support for UNSG Special Representative Razali’s efforts. They noted the co-operation extended to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights on his visits to Myanmar, and co-operation with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in theThey recognized that the process of national reconciliation was fragile and required a shared commitment by all to an intensified dialogue aimed at national unity, a restoration of democracy and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Ministers noted the readiness of several states and the European Commission to assist efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in Myanmar.

19.   Ministers reiterated their support for the stability, territorial integrity and national unity of Indonesia, and welcomed its efforts to solve internal conflicts through dialogue and negotiation. In this context they warmly welcomed the signing of the Aceh Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in Geneva on 9 December 2002. They also welcomed the readiness of several Southeast Asian countries to dispatch observers to monitor the agreement, as well as the readiness of the European side to assist politically and financially in the post-conflict rehabilitation of Aceh.

20.   Ministers deeply regretted the decision by the DPRK to withdraw from the NPT and its termination of co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). They called on the DPRK to resume its co-operation with the IAEA and to reverse its decision to withdraw from NPT and supported all efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement of the issues through dialogue. They supported the active engagement of the international community and appreciated the efforts made by the ARF and its Chair towards this endeavour.

21.   Ministers expressed grave concern about the current situation in the Middle East and condemned the latest wave of violence. They urged the parties to show maximum restraint. They welcomed all initiatives contributing to a final, just and comprehensive settlement with two States, Israel and an independent, sovereign, and democratic Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. They particularly supported the work by the Middle East Quartet concerning a common road map leading to the establishment such a state by 2005.

22.   Ministers discussed the grave situation in Iraq and agreed that Iraq must honour its disarmament obligation in conformity with relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. Ministers reiterated their support for the UN process, and called on Iraq to co-operate proactively and without reservations with the UN weapons inspectors.

23.   Ministers exchanged views on the important role of the multilateral trading system embodied by the WTO in contributing to world economic growth and reinforcing international economic relations. On the ongoing round of multilateral trade negotiations, both sides underlined their commitment to closely work together to make progress substantially and comparably on all the Doha Development Agenda subjects, including on market access issues, on rule-making issues, and the Doha mandates referring to development, which aim at the better integration of developing countries in the multilateral trading system. Both sides reiterated their support to the early entry of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam into the WTO.

24.   The Ministers had a wide-ranging discussion on the international economic situation and the present global economic outlook. In this context, the Ministers stressed the need for closer economic co-operation between ASEAN and the EU, that would contribute positively to the economic growth of the two regions and the rest of the world.

25.   Following the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development the EU invited those ASEAN partners, who have not yet joined the EU renewable Energy Coalition, to join. The EU emphasised its energy partnership initiative on poverty eradication aiming to improve access to adequate, affordable and sustainable energy services.

Injecting New Momentum into EU-ASEAN Relations

Key Developments in the EU and ASEAN

International Issues


The Future of EU-ASEAN relations

26.    On the basis of their discussion on injecting new momentum into EU-ASEAN relations, Ministers agreed to develop a comprehensive and balanced agenda for the future in line with the goals and priorities of both sides. This agenda should in particular cover the following areas:

  • Promotion of bilateral trade and investment flows ;
  • Promotion of sustainable and equitable development ;
  • Co-operation to combat transnatio

    nal crime and terrorism ;

  • Promotion of cultural co-operation and people-to-people contacts between ASEAN and the EU ;
  • Promotion of dialogue on issues of common concern, such as democracy, good governance, human rights, and the rule of law.


27.    In this context, the Ministers reiterated that the ASEAN-EU relationship is based on shared deep historical and cultural, economic, scientific and educational ties, and commitment to the promotion of peace, stability and development in the two regions. Future co-operation should continue to focus on promoting collaboration and dialogue in areas of common interests based on the spirit of partnership and mutual respect.


Next Meeting

28.   Ministers agreed to meet again for the 15th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in ASEAN in 2005.