Malaysia has seen outstanding economic and social development in recent decades. It has traditionally requested little external assistance from the EU.
Improved relations in the areas of trade and investment are the basis of Malaysia-EU relations. The 1980 EU-cooperation agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) is the principal framework for cooperation with the country which at the moment has no bilateral agreement with the EU.
The opening of an EU Delegation in the capital Kuala Lumpur in 2003 has led to greater interest in Malaysia-EU relations among all levels of Malaysian society. The EU is developing a meaningful dialogue with Malaysia on issues where there is a shared interest. Namely, since 2007, the EU and Malaysia have been engaged in negotiations on a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) for Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). Bilateral relations have also reached new horizons with the launch of negotiations for a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso in October 2010. Negotiations are in progress.
EU cooperation 2007-13
The EU-Malaysia Strategy Paper (2007-13) outlines the areas for policy dialogue:
- 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 and
The multi-annual indicative programme (2007-13) allocated €8 million to support these areas. The country has been also successful in accessing funding under the EU’s various thematic programmes, in particular, in the fields of democracy and human rights, environment and sustainable management of natural resources including energy, asylum and migration.
The country has also extensively benefited from regional programmes such as SWITCH-Asia (promoting sustainable consumption and production practices), FLEGT Asia (promoting good forest governance in the Asia region), as well as ASEAN-wide programmes and initiatives. Malaysia is close to achieving its target of becoming a high income and advanced nation by 2020 and has thus received support under the EU’s instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories. There was a notable increase in Malaysian participation in EU programmes for research cooperation in the years 2007-13.