EU-ASEAN Economic & Policy Forum, Jakarta, 18 April 2013

Opening remarks by Head of EU Delegation in Jakarta,
Ambassador Julian Wilson

Secretary General, Deputy Secretary General, CPR Ambassadors, EU and ASEAN Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen

Today’s meeting looks back at the year that the EU and ASEAN have had together. It also looks forward to the future, identifying the issues we both face and how we can and will cooperate together in meeting those challenges.

We have indeed had a busy and very successful last twelve months together:

• Our foreign ministers have signed an ambitious ASEAN-EU Plan of Action.
• The EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, and twelve EU Ministers met their ASEAN counterparts in Brunei to endorse this Plan and agree specific activities in the economic, political and social areas that will bring our two great regions closer together.
• The Plan of Action has already led to increased cooperation in the political area. Conferences such as the EU-ASEAN Seminar on Mediation, visits such as by the ASEAN Human Rights Commission to Europe and new projects such as in disaster management. These new activities from the Plan of Action are driving the exchange of experiences and capacity building between our two great regions.
• The level of our economic cooperation has also accelerated significantly in the last year. New trade agreements have been finalised with Singapore and are being negotiated with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. Our support for economic integration within ASEAN expanded with the launch of the EU-ASEAN programme ARISE, a €15 million programme supporting ASEAN’s economic integration at the regnal level.
• And on the political front, High Representative Ashton signed on behalf of the EU our accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.  

Ladies and Gentlemen

Looking forward, we are sure to see that cooperation broaden and deepen still further between the EU and ASEAN. Forecasting this for two regions who are geographically so far apart seems strange. But I say it with such confidence because three basic facts link and intertwine our futures indelibly together…

Our peoples and economies already depend on each other deeply. This will drive future cooperation. 10 million of our citizens move between Europe and ASEAN each and every year, whether these trips are to enjoy a holiday, close a business deal or to study at a university, each in their own way cement our ties and bring us closer together. Our economies are similarly inter-dependent, relying on each other for trade and investment. You are Europe’s fifth largest trading partner now. We are your third largest trading partner and largest source of foreign investment. Our trade alone last year was over 250 billion dollars.  We have only just begun to tap the potential for growth that comes from facilitating movement between our 1.1 billion people and  from integrating further our economies that together total more than 20 trillion dollars.

Ladies and Gentlemen

A second fact similarly will drive stronger future cooperation – namely, our shared vision about creating single markets in the ASEAN and EU areas. We have both decided that breaking down national economic borders between our member states and creating two super “regional” economies can create greater growth and stability for our respective peoples and companies. The single markets of EU and and separately of ASEAN are more advanced than any others in the world. ASEAN has even higher ambitions for its single market from 2015. This naturally brings us two together – not that we will simplistically copy each other but more subtlely that we can and will learn from each other as we tackle the same types of challenges that emerge from creating single markets from separate national ones. Substantial development cooperation for ASEAN regional cooperation from the EU – over 65 million dollars over the last five years which we are seeking to double in the coming years – lubricates this common learning and sharing of  xperiences on the single market.  This is in addition to the large amounts of funding at the national levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Lastly, we are united by a common “soft power” philosophy that naturally grows up around regional integration initiatives like ASEAN and the EU. To consolidate and survive, regional groupings like ours set down common principles and values that unite their member states, they build consensus and agreement rather than impose a view,  and they express their power externally in a soft way towards third countries that is very different to the traditional bilateral relations between nation states. We are only just starting to tap into this part of our relationship. But as we come across each other as regional blocs, whether it is in G20 discussions on economic matters or in the UN on peace keeping or climate change negotiations, we realise that we share many of the same principles and goals and that we can achieve much by teaming up together to complement our individual national positions. Indeed our regional integration philosophy is often far more effective at getting agreement and forwarding interests in multilateral fora than the more traditional national approaches. I forecast this multilateral cooperation, the alliance of our soft powers, will grow significantly in future.

This soft power of ASEAN is also crucial in explaining why and how ASEAN is the central driving force behind the emerging new regional architecture in Asia. Indeed the EU believes that the structures growing around ASEAN today offer the brightest hope for the security, stability and prosperity of the wider Asia of tomorrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen

These links, these common destinies, between our two great regions are already driving progress. 2012 was a year of high level political engagement. 2013 is a year to consolidate and build our cooperation. We have already seen over 50 visits by EU Ministers and heads of government to your region. Beyond visits, 2013 is also seeing expanded capacity and activity on the ground here in Jakarta. Our officials met in January in the Joint Cooperation Committee to map our these new measures, efforts that are already producing results. We are expanding our physical representation here in Jakarta to work on ASEAN matters. We are seeking to expand our development support to ASEAN, funding new projects that directly support ASEAN’s integration and that bring EU and ASEAN closer together.

Ladies and Gentlemen

In conclusion, we the EU are investing in ASEAN because it makes sense! The alliance we are building today will not only underpin and expand the people to people and economic ties that we already enjoy but will be the basis for an expanded alliance of tomorrow – where the two greatest soft powers in the world will work together more and more to find multilateral solutions to common and critical problems that traditional national bilateral relations are insufficient to address alone. We are not only part of the solution to assure our citizens of a more secure, stable and prosperous future but we together can make a better world for all.

Thank you.