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EU proposes to scale up its partnership with ASEAN

The European Commission yesterday adopted the Joint Communication: “The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose”. The Joint Communication (agreed with the Council of Ministers) puts forward concrete ideas for taking EU-ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) relations to the next level by providing a more coherent framework for sectoral cooperation and by ensuring a sharper political focus.

“The partnership between the EU and ASEAN is crucial and we are determined to build on it and strengthen our political and economic cooperation. From trade to security, from climate change to the rule of law, we have a deep cooperation and as the EU we are supporting ASEAN integration. Deepening and broadening our relation with ASEAN is key for the EU’s Asia strategy,” said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini.

Concrete proposals and commitments contained in the Joint Communication include:
Taking trade relations with ASEAN to a different level and working towards an ambitious region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) building on bilateral agreements between the EU and ASEAN Member States;

Stepping up cooperation on ‘Connectivity’ by exchanging lessons learned and by mobilising the financial means and expertise to support ASEAN efforts, including on the single market and through negotiating a civil aviation agreement;

Strengthening collaboration on climate change and initiating a new, dedicated EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on environment and sustainable development;

More than doubling EU financial support for ASEAN integration (to 170 million) which comes on top of the EUR 2 billion for ASEAN Member States;

Implementing an extensive ‘package’ of new initiatives in the area of non-traditional security (maritime security, disaster management and crisis response, transnational crime, training courses on preventive diplomacy, crisis management, mediation, the rule of law and election observation).

Last year’s EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (Brussels, 23 July 2014) welcomed the stepping up of EU-ASEAN relations and expressed the wish to upgrade them to a Strategic Partnership. By adopting the present Joint Communication, both the EEAS and the Commission intend to contribute proactively to the future of EU-ASEAN relations.

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