The Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established to foster economic growth, social progress and cultural development, while promoting regional peace and stability. The European Union is committed to cultivating closer links with the association and decided on €65 million as direct support to its activities. In addition ASEAN Member States benefit from a range of other regional and thematic actions in areas such as climate change, environment, food security, higher education, disaster management, humanitarian assistance and scientific cooperation.
ASEAN is made up of ten nations: Brunei Darussalam, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. In 2003, the Association’s leaders resolved to establish a community based on three pillars: security, the economy and socio-cultural issues. In 2007, the ASEAN Charter was signed. The Roadmap for achieving the ASEAN Community comprising detailed blueprints for the three pillars was adopted in 2009 and is to be achieved by end of 2015.
This desire for greater cooperation is supported by the ASEAN Vision 2020, which calls for member nations to develop an outward-looking partnership forged through peace, stability and prosperity. The aim is to encourage dynamic regional development and to produce a community of caring societies.
At the ASEAN-EU Ministerial meeting in April 2012 the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action on ASEAN-EU Cooperation was signed. This Plan of Action sets the framework for greater cooperation during 2013-2017.
The EU’s objectives for cooperation with ASEAN aim to contribute to deeper economic integration between the association’s member states, and to stimulate economic growth and sustainable development in the South East Asia region.
The EU sought to revitalise cooperation in 2003 with the publication of A New Partnership for South-East Asia , which provided a strategic approach for relations between the two regions including six priority areas for action:
- Supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism.
- Promoting human rights, democratic principles and good governance.
- Mainstreaming justice and home affairs issues.
- Injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations.
- Continuing to support the development of less-prosperous countries.
- Intensifying dialogue and co-operation in specific policy areas.
In 2007, the Commission adopted its Strategy Document for EU-Asia Cooperation (2007-2013). For this period around €70 m had been earmarked for ASEAN, which represents about 10% of the overall regional Asia envelope. The period was divided into 2007-2010 and 2011-2013 with a Mid Term Review in 2010.
The overall progress to implement EU-ASEAN cooperation has been good. Several of the projects within the 2007-2013 period build on the earlier "core area" of EU support to regional integration with focus on trade-related issues that fall under the ASEAN Economic Community pillar.
For the first sub-period 2007-2010 the following Financing Agreements have been signed:
- Statistical Capacity Building (€6 m);
- Support to FTA negotiations (€2.5 m)
- ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE, €15 m)
- ASEAN Air Transport Integration Project (AATIP, €5 m)
- Intellectual Property (ECAP, €4.5 m)
- Migration and Border Management (€4.7m)
- Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI, €4 m).
For the second sub-period 2011-2013 decisions have been taken for the following projects:
- ASEAN regional integration monitoring and statistics (€7.5 m).
- Support to Higher Education in the ASEAN Region (€10 m).
- Migration and Border Management II (€3.4 m).
- Support to Human Rights (€3.3 m) carried out by topping up of READI.