Asia - Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

Asia - Association for South East Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), brings together the ten Southeast Asian countries (Brunai, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam). ASEAN is an important actor in an increasingly interconnected and highly dynamic region, with high rates of economic and demographic growth. In 2017, ASEAN was the 5th largest economy after the US, EU, China, and Japan and is set to become the 4th largest economy by 2050.

In terms of population, ASEAN ranks as the world’s 3rd largest and its young middle class is expected to rise to 65% of ASEAN's total population by 2030, up from 24% in 2010. Still, there are very large development gaps between the countries of the region and a number of challenges to sustainable development, in terms of ensuring inclusive economic growth, sustainable management of natural resources and tackling climate change issues in a region which is one of the most affected by natural disasters.

The EU and ASEAN have a longstanding partnership of over 42 years, which continues to strengthen and expand. ASEAN represents the EU's 3rd largest trading partner outside Europe, while the EU is ASEAN’s 2nd largest trading partner and the number one source of Foreign Direct Investments in ASEAN countries. The EU and ASEAN share a commitment to the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In 2017, we have held a successful first High-Level ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development where we discussed our joint engagement in this respect.

The EU is the largest donor to ASEAN, with over EUR 200 million in the period 2014-2020 in support of ASEAN regional integration (which comes in addition to over EUR 2 billion of bilateral assistance to ASEAN Member States for the same period).


Our impact

  • Launching the ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST)
    • Designed with the EU support, ASSIST is a powerful, practical and free of charge tool that can be used by companies working in ASEAN to file and resolve complaints about issues they face when doing business in the region.
  • Over 5500 students and academic staff from ASEAN travelled to Europe on scholarships
    • This has been funded by the EU ERASMUS+ programme and the EU Member States.
  • 591 scholarships provided to students from eight ASEAN countries, to study in other ASEAN countries.
    • With EU support, ASEAN students can participate in study programmes at 32 universities in the region.
  • Support to ASEAN emergency assistance operations after tsunami and earthquake in Indonesia, floods in Laos and civilian displacement crisis in the Philippines.
    • EU provides funding and training to the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Centre, to better manage the response in cases of major disasters in the region.
  • 14 million smallholder farmers in ASEAN countries supported through 26 national and 1200 local farmer organisations.
  • 110 coffee farmers in Vietnam supported in forming cooperatives and developing business plans.
    • The EU support to ASEAN farmers’ organisations helps to improve sustainable green farming practices and effective business planning for improved livelihoods of small farmers in ASEAN countries.

Our Programmes

The EU-ASEAN development cooperation spans across a broad number of areas, as demonstrated in the EU-ASEAN Cooperation Blue Book 2019.

One of the main areas of focus is supporting sustainable economic and trade integration in ASEAN, aimed to promote inclusive economic growth, job creation and enhancing trade in a way that benefits sustainable development. This includes areas such as facilitating trade, cooperation in road transport, civil aviation, intellectual property rights, food safety, support to regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements with the EU and promoting enabling business and investment environment. We are also promoting greater economic and trade connectivity between the EU and ASEAN.

Another major area of focus is environment, climate change mitigation and disaster management, where we support ASEAN in sustainable management of peatlands and mitigating haze pollution, preserving the rich and unique biodiversity areas in the region, as well as assisting ASEAN countries in enhancing their capacities of preparedness and response and act jointly in cases of major natural disasters in the region.

We provide support to higher education and student mobility in ASEAN, through scholarships and building a regional higher education area, drawing on the EU’s Bologna process and Erasmus experience.

Under the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative for elimination of violence against women and girls we have a dedicated programme for ASEAN which supports the rights and opportunities of women migrant workers in ASEAN who working across different countries in the region.

Since 2018, our new policy dialogue facility has started supporting many new relevant areas of EU-ASEAN cooperation, such as circular economy, marine litter and plastic waste, digital economy, fisheries, clean energy, construction standards and others.


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