The Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, led by its chair David McAllister (EPP, DE), visited ASEAN, Indonesia and Thailand on 8-11 May 2018.

At the end of the visit Mr McAllister said:

“Last year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the EU-ASEAN relations and the 50th anniversary of ASEAN. The EU has longstanding and diverse bilateral relations with Indonesia and Thailand and a unique region-to-region relation with ASEAN. Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions. Its population is comparable to the European Union and its economy is growing strongly. The ambitious integration plans are adding up to its economic and political dynamism.

 

Four years ago the European Parliament recommended to upgrade the region-to-region relationship with ASEAN into a strategic partnership. We would also like to see the largest ASEAN member state Indonesia to be recognised as a strategic partner. As with all our key partners we hope to intensify bilateral and multilateral cooperation to address global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and maritime security.

 

Our visit to ASEAN concluded in Thailand, who will hold the ASEAN chair next year. I welcome plans for the legislative elections in Thailand and hope that they will indeed be held according to the roadmap presented by the Thai government. In the run up to the elections we would welcome to see the necessary lifting of restrictions on political activities in order to open debates by political parties, media and the civil society. With the re-establishment of democratic governance we are looking forward to the full resumption of our traditionally warm relations with Thailand.”

 

The Committee Members held productive meetings with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi and Permanent Representatives of ASEAN member states, as well as Indonesian and Thai Ministers, other senior government representatives and Members of Parliament, the diplomatic corps as well as civil society and think-tanks.

 

The visit was organised with the objective of highlighting the increased importance and the strategic nature of EU’s relations with Southeast Asia. The European Union is ready to share with ASEAN its experiences on its own regional integration path.  Both regions need to face and address regional economic and security challenges. In this sense the EU is a natural partner for ASEAN for cooperation and exchanging views.

 

MEPs recalled that in 2014 the Parliament gave its consent to the EU-Indonesia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which was the first in the region. The PCA has strengthened the bilateral relations in addressing global challenges of climate change, cyber-crime, piracy and extremism and terrorism, and in developing political and economic cooperation. MEPs emphasized the prospects of further engaging with Indonesia and its diplomatic presence in the multilateral fora, such as the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the G20, and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

 

MEPs also encouraged the prompt conclusion of the EU-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement negotiations which will create a market of 750 million consumers and increase trade and investment.

 

Committee members hoped that the EU-Thailand Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) would be concluded soon after the elections have been held in Thailand. MEPs hoped that the bilateral relationship would gain a strong positive momentum to enable future negotiations for a free trade agreement and the deepening and expanding of the scope of bilateral cooperation and exchanges.

 

In addition to Mr McAllister the delegation was composed of six MEPs: Mr Cristian Dan PREDA (EPP, RO), Ms Željana ZOVKO (EPP, HR), Mr Doru FRUNZULICA (S&D, RO), Mr Juan Fernando LOPEZ AGUILAR (S&D, ES), Mr Wajid KHAN (S&D, UK), and Mr Urmas PAET (ALDE, EE).