Building strong and lasting links with Asia
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is Europe’s main multilateral channel for communication with Asia. Its key objective is to strengthen relations between Asia and Europe in a spirit of mutual respect and partnership. The European Commission has a strong interest in promoting closer Asia-Europe relations and multilateralism in the international arena.
The final report of the second ASEM Development Conference [3 MB] , Towards an Asia-Europe Partnership for Sustainable Development, is now available. Visit the conference website for more information.
What is ASEM?
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal process of dialogue and co-operation bringing together the 27 European Union Member States and the European Commission with 16 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat. The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues, with the objective of strengthening the relationship between the two regions, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.
Since 1996, ASEM Summits have been held every two years in London (1998), Seoul (2000), Copenhagen (2002), Hanoi (2004) and Helsinki (2006). The last ASEM Summit was held in Beijing on 24-25 October 2008. ASEM Ministerial Meetings in various sectoral dialogues addressing global issues of common concern are supported by regular meetings of senior officials.
Apart from the official meetings, nearly 100 initiatives have been implemented over the past decade, including numerous expert-level, thematic working meetings and symposia, often involving the business communities and civil society groups of the two regions. Subjects covered have extended from the initial emphasis on economic cooperation to include human rights, rule of law, global health threats, sustainable development, and intercultural and interfaith dialogues.
As an informal process, ASEM has no secretariat. Foreign Ministers and their senior officials (SOM) have an overall coordinating role within the ASEM process, and are assisted by a group of four Coordinators (the European Commission is the only permanent coordinator of ASEM). The ASEM 6 Summit decided to set up an ASEM Virtual Secretariat, which would operate as a closed intranet system to facilitate management of agenda and working programme and enhance the institutional memory.
European Commission commitment towards ASEM
The Commission is keen to further strengthen ASEM and provides assistance through three main areas:
The ASEM Dialogue Facility
The ASEM Dialogue Facility provides a forum for political dialogue and networking among ASEM partners in various sectors. Besides its networking activities and meetings, the facility also commissions specific studies, workshops and conferences.
The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
The EU has provided an extra assistance to support to the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) to organise conferences, lecture tours, workshops, seminars and to use of web-based platforms and other channels for exchange of people and information.
Funding will enhance ASEF's role as an effective institution for the promotion of intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between Asia and Europe. In turn, these activities will help to raise ASEM’s profile.
The Trans-Eurasia Information Network
This high-speed telecommunications network is dedicated to improve research links between Asia and Europe. It connects the European GEANT network to similar bodies in Asia with the aim of stimulating the exchange of information among researchers and students.
Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) is currently in its third phase of operation. The TEIN3 is supported by the European Commission with a EC contribution of €11,4 million covering 63% of the project costs. It has an ambition to extend the network to South Asia, including countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The initial intention to create TEIN was a bilateral activity between France and Korea. The EC funded the expansion of TEIN2 to other ASEM countries with a budget of €10 million in the years 2004-2008. At the end of 2008 the network had 11 partners covering China, Indonesia, Hong-Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Australia, some of them funding their own share of project costs. In the course of 2009 Laos and Cambodia joined the network and by the end of 2009 additional 6 countries from South Asia will be connected.
Recently, the EU has supported the ASEM Asia Financial Crisis Response Trust Fund which helped countries undertake economic and social reforms following the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Following a first phase of funding between 1998 and 2002, a second phase, covering 2002 to 2006, provided a budget of €20 million. The fund was established as a multi-donor facility and managed by the World Bank the EU being its biggest donor.
More about ASEM
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