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Malaysia has witnessed outstanding economic and social development in recent decades and has one of the highest rates of growth in gross domestic product in Asia. Its relationship with the European Union (EU) is, therefore, important mainly from a trade and investment point of view. The country has traditionally requested minimal external assistance. In the absence of a bilateral EU-Malaysia agreement, the 1980 EU-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement is the principal framework for cooperation. However, with the opening of a European Commission Delegation in Malaysia in 2003, federal and state authorities, civil society, academia, and the local and EU business communities, have shown much greater interest in cooperation. It remains the EU’s intention to develop a meaningful dialogue with Malaysia on all political, trade, economic and social issues of common interest.

EU Aid programmes 2007-2013

An EU-Malaysia Strategy Paper (2007-2013) pdf - 258 KB [258 KB] Deutsch (de) français (fr)  proposes a shift in cooperation based on policy dialogue covering:

  • Trade and investment
  • Forest law enforcement governance and trade (FLEGT)
  • Human capital, higher education policy, scholar and student mobility
  • Human rights
  • Governance, transparency and accountability
  • Migration

The multi-annual indicative programme for the first four years (2007-2010) allocates €8 million to support these areas. A renewed momentum in EU-Malaysia cooperation is also being supported by a policy dialogue and cooperation facility to explore certain areas in more depth, particularly:

  • Trade and investment cooperation and facilitation
  • A bilateral FLEGT partnership agreement
  • Human capital development towards a knowledge-based society covering higher education, and business-oriented research and development

Funding is also available under the thematic programmes of which the programmes for democracy and human rights, and environment and sustainable management of natural resources could be of particular interest for Malaysia. Malaysia is also involved in EU-ASEAN initiatives.


Recent assistance

During the period 2002-2006 pdf - 483 KB [483 KB] , €5.6 million was made available for cooperation projects on trade and investment facilitation, and higher education.

Between 2005 and 2007, over 100 students were awarded scholarships by the Erasmus Mundus programme to follow further studies in Europe. The choice of courses by the students included: information science and ICT, engineering and management, aeronautics and space; international studies; biotechnology, food science and technology, agricultural studies and rural development, forestry, art and media.

The small grants programme for operations to protect tropical forests, including a Malaysian component, and supported by nearly €1 million from the European Commission, has been very successful and focuses on indigenous communities living in and from the forest (the remaining pockets of poverty in Malaysia are among these groups). There are 20 ongoing small-grant projects, which are directly managed by the indigenous communities in Peninsular Malaysia, and Sabah and Sarawak (in Borneo). 

More information

The European External Action Service is responsible for drawing up the EU-Malaysia cooperation strategy.

Details of other funded projects and programmes, including regional and thematic programmes can be found on the website of the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia.






Last update: 17/02/2012 | Top