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Prospects for EU-Asia connectivity: The 'European way to connectivity'

06-04-2021

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established five strategic partnerships – including with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. In September 2018, the EU adopted a joint communication on 'Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks ...

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established five strategic partnerships – including with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. In September 2018, the EU adopted a joint communication on 'Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU strategy'. The strategy proposes that the EU engage with its Asian partners through a sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based approach to connectivity, exploiting existing and planned EU networks. It acknowledges the presence of a significant investment gap in connectivity and recognises the need to mobilise and strengthen cooperation with private investors, national and international institutions, and multilateral development banks. Analysts welcomed the strategy as the EU response to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative has been raising concerns in the EU and in several participating countries, some of which are worried about possible 'debt traps'. Echoing these concerns, the European Parliament has warned that the 17+1 format of cooperation between China and 17 central and eastern European countries could undermine the EU's common position towards Beijing. In January 2021, MEPs called for the creation of a global EU connectivity strategy as an extension of the current EU-Asia connectivity strategy. In September 2019, the EU and Japan launched the EU-Japan Partnership on Sustainable Connectivity and Quality Infrastructure. In December 2020, the EU and ASEAN issued a joint ministerial statement on connectivity. Financing Europe-Asia connectivity is a key challenge in the years to come, together with the challenges highlighted by the coronavirus crisis. This is a revised and updated edition of a briefing from October 2018.

The Quad: An emerging multilateral security framework of democracies in the Indo-Pacific region

18-03-2021

The Indo-Pacific region houses the largest share of global GDP, the world's busiest trade routes, largest population and most powerful militaries. After having successfully worked side by side in coordinating the 2004 tsunami relief, in 2007 Australia, India, Japan and the US (the Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) held meetings with each other to discuss security-related issues, and their navies held a military exercise. Although the grouping ended its activities prematurely in 2008 ...

The Indo-Pacific region houses the largest share of global GDP, the world's busiest trade routes, largest population and most powerful militaries. After having successfully worked side by side in coordinating the 2004 tsunami relief, in 2007 Australia, India, Japan and the US (the Quad, short for Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) held meetings with each other to discuss security-related issues, and their navies held a military exercise. Although the grouping ended its activities prematurely in 2008, China's growing assertiveness in the region prompted it to remain active in bilateral and trilateral cooperation on security issues. Meetings among senior officials resumed in November 2017 in Manila. In November 2020, the Quad navies held a major military exercise. The first Quad summit took place in March 2021. The grouping has emphasised that its goal is to maintain the liberal rules-based international order, which China seeks to undermine through a revisionist challenge of the status quo. Its efforts are not focused on creating institutions or military alliances, but rather, on generating gradual convergence of cooperation on multiple issues, including Covid-19, climate change, critical and emerging technologies, counterterrorism, cybersecurity and disaster recovery. Establishing further cooperation with other like-minded countries in the region and co-existing with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) are among the Quad's future challenges. The EU is not a traditional security player in the Indo-Pacific; however, as the region is particularly relevant to its trade, it has a strong interest in avoiding disruption of the sea lanes. The Indo-Pacific could be an area of cooperation with the new US administration. France, Germany and the Netherlands have published strategies or guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region, which has stepped up expectations about the forthcoming strategy for the region by the EU as a whole.

Trade negotiations between the EU and ASEAN member states

11-11-2020

In 2017, the European Union–Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogue partnership celebrated its 40th anniversary. The same year saw the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. The ASEAN region is currently the world's fifth largest economy, a dynamic economic area home to more than 660 million consumers. To ensure better access to opportunities in the region's market, the European Union (EU) started negotiations with ASEAN for a region-to-region free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007 ...

In 2017, the European Union–Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) dialogue partnership celebrated its 40th anniversary. The same year saw the 50th anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. The ASEAN region is currently the world's fifth largest economy, a dynamic economic area home to more than 660 million consumers. To ensure better access to opportunities in the region's market, the European Union (EU) started negotiations with ASEAN for a region-to-region free trade agreement (FTA) in 2007. After negotiations were suspended in 2009, the EU decided to pursue bilateral trade agreements with the individual ASEAN member states. To date, six have begun talks on bilateral FTAs with the EU: Singapore and Malaysia in 2010; Vietnam in 2012; Thailand in 2013; the Philippines in 2015; and Indonesia in 2016. Negotiations have already been concluded and FTAs entered into force with two of these countries, Singapore and Vietnam, in November 2019 and August 2020, respectively. Negotiations are under way with Indonesia, while talks are currently on hold with Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. In the longer term, these bilateral FTAs would allow the establishment of a region-to-region FTA, which remains the EU's ultimate ambition. By bringing together two of the world's largest economic areas, the agreement would establish a free trade area with a combined market of more than 1 billion people. It is in the EU's interest to strengthen its economic cooperation with ASEAN, in order to maintain its competitive position in this dynamically developing region. Closer trade and investment relations could also pave the way towards the EU's goal of a strategic partnership between the two regional blocs, encompassing political as well as economic cooperation.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): The EU's partner in Asia?

11-11-2020

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve ...

Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is often compared with the EU. Both organisations brought together former adversaries and successfully resolved tensions through cooperation, helping to bring peace and prosperity to their regions. However, the EU and ASEAN operate in very different ways. ASEAN is a strictly intergovernmental organisation in which decisions are based on consensus. While this approach has made it difficult for south-east Asian countries to achieve the same level of integration as the EU, it has also enabled ASEAN to accommodate huge disparities among its 10 member states. In 2003, south-east Asian leaders decided to take cooperation to another level by setting up an ASEAN Community. To this end, they adopted a charter in 2007, though without fundamentally changing the nature of the organisation's decision-making or giving it stronger institutions. The community has three pillars: political-security, economic, and socio-cultural. ASEAN's impact has been uneven. Barring the contentious South China Sea issue, ASEAN has become an effective platform for cooperation between its member states and the wider Asia-Pacific region, and promoted economic integration, even if the goal of an EU-style single market is a long way off. On the other hand, ASEAN is still perceived as an elite project that has little impact on the daily lives of south-east Asians. EU-ASEAN relations span four decades and have steadily deepened, building on common values as well as booming trade and investment. Both sides have expressed their ambition to upgrade to a strategic partnership.

Prospects for EU-Asia connectivity - The 'European way to connectivity'

12-10-2018

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established strategic partnerships with four Asian countries, intensified cooperation with the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN), and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. As an implementation of its 2016 Global Strategy, the EU has carried out ...

Asia matters to Europe: home to the world's largest population and fastest-growing economies, Asia is a major trade partner of the EU. Recognising this, the EU has promoted the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), established strategic partnerships with four Asian countries, intensified cooperation with the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN), and negotiated or concluded free trade agreements with several Asian countries. As an implementation of its 2016 Global Strategy, the EU has carried out a mapping exercise on Euro-Asian connectivity, followed by the adoption of a joint communication on 'Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU strategy' on 19 September 2018. The strategy proposes that the EU engage with its Asian partners through a sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based approach to connectivity, exploiting existing and planned EU networks. It acknowledges a significant investment gap in connectivity and recognises the need to mobilise and strengthen cooperation with private investors, national and international institutions, and multilateral development banks. The strategy is part of the EU's contribution to the ASEM12 Summit, which is to take place in Brussels on 18-19 October 2018. Presented by Vice President/High Representative, Federica Mogherini, as the 'European way to connectivity', the strategy was immediately perceived as the EU response to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative is currently raising concerns in the EU and in several participating countries, some of which are worried about possible 'debt traps'.

Benefits of EU international trade agreements

25-10-2017

Trade is the EU's most important link to the world beyond its borders. In force since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the transition to a common EU trade policy was completed in 1968. It is the EU's oldest instrument influencing the bloc's foreign relations. Today, Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the common trade policy as an exclusive EU competence. Following the procedure under that legal basis the EU negotiates, concludes and implements trade agreements ...

Trade is the EU's most important link to the world beyond its borders. In force since the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the transition to a common EU trade policy was completed in 1968. It is the EU's oldest instrument influencing the bloc's foreign relations. Today, Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the common trade policy as an exclusive EU competence. Following the procedure under that legal basis the EU negotiates, concludes and implements trade agreements. Currently, the EU is negotiating and up-dating Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 19 countries and 2 sub-regional blocs, namely the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Southern Common Market of South American countries (Mercado Común de Sur: Mercosur). Within the EU's latest trade strategy – the 2015 'Trade for All – Towards a more responsible trade and investment strategy', FTAs are considered instruments that contribute to the EU's objective of generating jobs and growth. About 31 million jobs in Europe depend, directly or indirectly, on the EU and its Member States' ability to trade. In other words, EU external trade concerns almost one in every seven jobs in Europe. In France, for example, over 2.2 million jobs rely on French exports outside the EU. Around 90 % of future global growth is expected to be generated outside Europe's borders. Figures show that the EU share of world GDP has slowly decreased in recent years (see graph below). Against this background, the EU needs to seize trade opportunities beyond its borders in order to gain higher levels of growth in Europe.

Juhovýchodná Ázia

01-06-2017

Ázia je najväčším a najľudnatejším kontinentom na svete s veľkým geostrategickým významom pre EÚ. V juhovýchodnej Ázii sú združenie ASEAN a stretnutie ASEM významnými fórami pre EÚ a EÚ vytvára s krajinami tohto regiónu užšie väzby. Európska únia je silným hospodárskym hráčom a významným poskytovateľom rozvojovej a humanitárnej pomoci na podporu budovania inštitúcií, demokracie, dobrej správy a ľudských práv.

Ázia je najväčším a najľudnatejším kontinentom na svete s veľkým geostrategickým významom pre EÚ. V juhovýchodnej Ázii sú združenie ASEAN a stretnutie ASEM významnými fórami pre EÚ a EÚ vytvára s krajinami tohto regiónu užšie väzby. Európska únia je silným hospodárskym hráčom a významným poskytovateľom rozvojovej a humanitárnej pomoci na podporu budovania inštitúcií, demokracie, dobrej správy a ľudských práv.

The future of EU - ASEAN relations

20-04-2017

Marking the 40th anniversary of the start of their dialogue ASEAN and the EU have agreed to work towards establishing a strategic partnership. While trade has always been the cornerstone of the relationship - ASEAN is the EU’s third largest trade partner - the EU’s ambition to expand its role as a global actor demand increased engagement. Both sides face common challenges that can only be addressed through joint responses that involve all stakeholders. To be strategic the partnership must embrace ...

Marking the 40th anniversary of the start of their dialogue ASEAN and the EU have agreed to work towards establishing a strategic partnership. While trade has always been the cornerstone of the relationship - ASEAN is the EU’s third largest trade partner - the EU’s ambition to expand its role as a global actor demand increased engagement. Both sides face common challenges that can only be addressed through joint responses that involve all stakeholders. To be strategic the partnership must embrace all aspects, from trade to energy, from climate change to security issues, from human rights to sustainable development. Deepening and enhancing relations between one of the most dynamic region in the world and the largest and most affluent market will bring important benefits to both European and ASEAN citizens. The last years have seen an increase in contacts but the many challenges faced today by the EU, internally and in its close neighbourhood, risk to require all attention and put the EU-ASEAN relations at risk. Finally the study argues that strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the relationship would, besides supporting representative democracy in Southeast Asia, contribute to maintaining the momentum launched in 2012.

Challenges to Freedom of the Seas and Maritime Rivalry in Asia

14-03-2017

China’s New Maritime Silk Road policy poses geostrategic challenges and offers some opportunities for the US and its allies in Asia-Pacific. To offset China’s westward focus, the US seeks to create a global alliance strategy with the aim to maintain a balance of power in Eurasia, to avoid a strong Russia-China or China-EU partnership fostered on economic cooperation. For the EU, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative by improving infrastructure may contribute to economic development in neighbouring ...

China’s New Maritime Silk Road policy poses geostrategic challenges and offers some opportunities for the US and its allies in Asia-Pacific. To offset China’s westward focus, the US seeks to create a global alliance strategy with the aim to maintain a balance of power in Eurasia, to avoid a strong Russia-China or China-EU partnership fostered on economic cooperation. For the EU, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative by improving infrastructure may contribute to economic development in neighbouring countries and in Africa but present also risks in terms of unfair economic competition and increased Chinese domination. Furthermore, China’s behaviour in the South China Sea and rebuff of the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, in July 2016, put the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at risk with possible consequences to freedom of the seas. Increasing relations with China could also affect EU-US relations at a time of China-US tension. To face these challenges, a stronger EU, taking more responsibility in Defence and Security, including inside NATO, is needed.

Externý autor

Patrick HÉBRARD (Fondation pour la recherche stratégique - FRS, Paris, France)

EU-Philippines relations: Beyond trade and aid?

17-01-2017

Recent controversial statements by new Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte are threatening to derail progress towards closer partnership between his country and the EU. Nevertheless, practical cooperation between the two sides, which began with European Community development aid 50 years ago, continues essentially unchanged. The EU and its Member States are still among the leading donors of aid to the Philippines, and EU-Philippines trade and investment is substantial. However, economic ties still ...

Recent controversial statements by new Philippines President, Rodrigo Duterte are threatening to derail progress towards closer partnership between his country and the EU. Nevertheless, practical cooperation between the two sides, which began with European Community development aid 50 years ago, continues essentially unchanged. The EU and its Member States are still among the leading donors of aid to the Philippines, and EU-Philippines trade and investment is substantial. However, economic ties still offer considerable untapped potential. A free trade agreement is currently under negotiation. The two sides have already concluded a partnership and cooperation agreement, now awaiting ratification. Once in force, this will help to strengthen not only economic ties, but also cooperation in the many areas where the EU and the Philippines have shared interests, such as migration, fisheries and maritime labour. Particularly under Duterte's predecessor, the pro-Western Benigno Aquino (2010 2016), EU-Philippines relations were based not only on shared interests but also values. The Philippines is a democracy and, due to its history, one of the most westernised countries in Asia. Shared values have helped to make the country one of the EU's closest allies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). While Duterte's anti-EU statements have not ended such cooperation, they have created uncertainty over future developments. The EU has adopted a wait-and-see approach; less cordial relations are likely to result.

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