9th Asia – Europe Meeting: Europe is a committed partner to Asia
"The message that we have brought to this gathering was very clear: Europe is a committed Asian partner and we want to be even more present in this part of the world," said President Barroso at the press conference following the 9th Asia – Europe Meeting.
"These two days we had the occasion to discuss how to build on this interdependence in a mutually beneficial way, for our two regions and for the rest of the world," continued the President.
The leaders discussed the economic and financial situation and how only an integrated approach on the part of Europe and Asia and the other major economies can restore strong, sustainable, balanced growth.
However the economy is only one dimension of the Europe – Asia partnership and President Barroso expressed his satisfaction that this summit allowed the leaders to also address important global issues such as climate change and the green economy.
"We are both faced with the challenge of ensuring that growth is both sustainable and inclusive… Environmental degradation is not sustainable; inequality, extreme poverty is not sustainable. In this respect we reaffirmed our commitment to the fulfilment of Millennium Development Goals and to work together on the follow-up to the Rio+20 Summit and in preparing the Climate conference in Doha."
He concluded by encouraging ASEAN countries towards greater integration within the region that is also an important basis for deepening any inter–regional dialogue such as the Asia – Europe meeting.
9th Asia-Europe (ASEM) meeting: Opening Ceremony
In his opening statement President Barroso stressed the central role of Europe-Asia relations in today's world and the importance of addressing global challenges jointly.
"We represent half of the world population, more than half of the world's GDP and 55% of the world's trade… But more important than statistics and figures is the common political will to jointly address today's challenges. This relation is indeed key for the world's prosperity and security," said President Barroso.
He recalled Europe's key role in Asia's recent development both through partnership in trade and through development aid targeted at the poorest in the region. He also pledged for a joint approach towards common challenges; "achieving sustainable development on a planet of finite resources is a challenge that we can only address jointly," he said.
He continued: "The European Union is building a solid framework for relations with Asia, based on three pillars: Partnership Agreements, aimed at discussing and cooperating on topical issues of mutual interest, from political to scientific, cultural and social matters; Free Trade Agreements to increase prosperity through further opening of our economies; and multilateral cooperation of which this forum, the Asia – Europe Meeting, is the main example."
The ASEM9 Summit brings together 51 ASEM Partners from Europe and Asia. Norway, Switzerland and Bangladesh are joining for the first time. The two-day talks will focus on economic, financial, global and regional issues, social and cultural cooperation and the future direction of ASEM and Asia-Europe relations.