The ASEAN-European Union (EU) dialogue relations were formalised when the 10th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting (AMM), 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.
The ASEAN-EU dialogue relations were institutionalised with the signing of the ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement on 7 March 1980. The dialogue relations have since rapidly grown and expanded to cover a wide range of areas including political and security, economic and trade, social and cultural and development cooperation.
ASEAN-EU dialogue relations are guided by the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership which was adopted in 2007. The Declaration sets out long-term vision and commitment of both sides to work together for common goals and objectives in the future.
- Political and security cooperation between ASEAN and the EU has been progressing well through existing ASEAN-EU mechanisms such as ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, ASEAN-EU Senior Officials’ Meeting as well as through dialogue and cooperation frameworks initiated by ASEAN, such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Post Ministerial Conferences (PMCs) 10+1. These regular meetings have helped ASEAN and the EU understand one another and build higher comfort level to further cooperation. ASEAN views these meetings critical in reviewing and guiding ASEAN-EU relations.
- The 19th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, which was held on 26-27 April 2012 in Bandar Seri Begawan, adopted the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action to Strengthen the ASEAN-EU Enhanced Partnership (2013-2017) that aims to give a more strategic focus to cooperation at regional cooperation in a wide range of areas – political/ security, economic/ trade and sociocultural.
- The Ministers at the 20th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting held on 23 July 2014 in Brussels agreed for both sides to work towards the upgrading of the partnership to a strategic one and tasked their senior officials to develop a roadmap for this goal. The Ministers also welcomed the EU’s commitment to more than double dedicated support for ASEAN’s institution building and 2015 Community building goals to €170 million in the period of 2014-2020.
- The ASEAN-EU Informal Troika Summit was held at the sidelines of the 10th ASEM Summit on 16 October 2014 in Milan, Italy. The Summit was co-chaired by H.E. Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Viet Nam and H.E. Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council. The Summit deliberated over the future perspectives of ASEAN and regional and international issues of common concern and interest.
- The EU was the first regional organisation to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) at the sidelines of the 45th AMM/PMC/19th ARF on 12 July 2012 in Phnom Penh. The accession demonstrated the EU’s commitment towards ASEAN and reflected as the important milestones in ASEAN-EU relations to promote peace, security and stability in the region.
- Currently there are 25 Ambassadors from the EU Member States and the Commission accredited their Ambassadors to ASEAN. Those are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, the EU, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
- Trade and investment relations between ASEAN and the EU remained substantial. Total trade between ASEAN and the EU slightly grew by 1.5%, amounting to US$ 246.2 billion in 2013. Exports to the EU slightly declined by 0.4% amounting to US$124.4 billion, while imports from the EU rose 3.5% totaling US$121.8 billion. During the same period, EU was ASEAN’s third largest trading partner.
- Foreign Direct Investment flow from the EU into ASEAN increased by 53.2% totaling US$26.7 billion. The EU continues to be ASEAN’s biggest source of Foreign Direct Investment, with a share of 22.3%.
- In Tourism, the number of visitor arrivals from the EU to ASEAN in 2012 was 8.07 million, an increase from 7.33 million in 2011.
- Negotiations for an ASEAN-EU FTA were launched in July 2007 with seven ASEAN Member States and both sides agreed to pause the negotiations in March 2009. At the 12th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM)-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations on 8 March 2013 in Ha Noi, the EU Trade Commissioner reiterated that the EU would pursue the bilateral FTA negotiations with individual AMS as building blocks towards the regional FTA and the EU would consider resuming negotiations of an ASEAN-EU FTA upon realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of 2015.
- The ASEAN-EU Business Summit (AEBS) continued to attract many business people from both regions and provide the opportunity for public-private sector dialogue. The 3rd ASEAN-EU Business Summit was held on 8-9 March 2013 at the sidelines of the 12th AEM-EU Trade Commissioner Consultations, following to the successful convening of the 1st ASEAN-EU Business Summit in 2011 and the 2nd ASEAN-EU Business Summit in 2012. So far, the AEBS has focused its discussions and recommendations on the sectors of infrastructure/connectivity, agri-food, healthcare, automotive and services and the recommendations arising from the AEBS have been presented to the AEM-EU Trade Commissioner.
- Recognising the potential for comprehensive aviation cooperation on a region-to-region basis, the 1st EU-ASEAN Aviation Summit was convened on 11-12 February 2014 in Singapore. This event served as a platform to deepen the strategic aviation dialogue between ASEAN and the EU with the aim of concluding a comprehensive air transport agreement between the two regions.
- ASEAN appreciated the EU’s assistance to ASEAN through the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE) programme to support the capacities of the ASEAN Member States in harmonising and implementing policies and regulations in economic sectors so as to contribute to the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The Grant Contract for Capacity Building of the ASEAN Secretariat Staff has been signed by the Secretary General on behalf of ASEAN. The signing ceremony of ARISE Programme took place at the conclusion of the 20th ASEAN-EU JCC held on 17 January 2013 at the ASEAN Secretariat.
- The ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Connectivity was held on 24-28 February 2014 in Brussels and Luxembourg. The Dialogue welcomed the establishment of an EU mechanism to engage the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee in supporting the Master Plan on Connectivity (MPAC) and enhancing ASEAN-EU cooperation in connectivity. The inaugural ACCC-EU Meeting was held on 11 September 2014 in Nay Pyi Taw.
- Cooperation under the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) has rapidly become a vital instrument of support towards the strengthening of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) and it has been very successful in its implementation of activities.
- On education, READI provided funding support for the project on the “State of Education Report in ASEAN”, which aims to stock-take ASEAN’s initiatives and chart progress in education in ASEAN in line with the ASEAN 5-Year Work Plan on Education (2011-2015). On Science and Technology, READI is also currently supporting two pilot networks of excellence in the field of green technology and on food security, respectively. On Environment, READI supported the convening of the first ASEAN-EU Roundtable on Climate Change which was held on 27 August 2013 in Jakarta.
- In the area of disaster management, the EU is currently providing support to ASEAN through READI in the development of a Monitoring and Evaluation System for the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme (2010-2015). The EU is also providing support through a new programme called the ASEAN-EU Emergency Management Programme (AEEMP), which funded by the Instrument for Stability. This programme is expected to provide support to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management (AHA Centre), ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat.
- Following the 21st ASEAN-EU Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) Meeting on 24 January 2014, both sides discussed the programming of the 2014-2020 of financial support for ASEAN which would focus on: (i) connectivity: sustainable and inclusive economic integration and trade; (ii) climate change and disaster management; and (iii) a comprehensive dialogue facility.
- The EU also provided funding support to the Institutional Capacity Building for ASEAN Monitoring and Statistics (2013-2017), EU Support to Higher Education in ASEAN Region (2014-2019), ASEAN-EU Migration and Border Management Programme Phase I and II, ASEAN-EU Statistical Capacity Building Programme (2009-2012), ASEAN Project on the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (2009-2018), ASEAN Air Transport Integration Project (2010-2016) and Enhancing ASEAN FTA Negotiating Capacity/Support to ASEAN-EU Negotiating Process (2011-2013).