The EP marks 40 years of EU-ASEAN relationship

A report and motion from the Committee on Foreign Affairs (to be discussed in the Plenary on 2-3 October) will underscore the deepening relations between the European Union and the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN), a strategic area of the Asia-Pacific region on the way to increased economic unity and political influence.

The report has regard and lists most of the history of EU political relations with ASEAN, since its foundation on 8 August 1967. Key elements include the ASEAN Regional Forum (1993), the negotiations for Free Trade Agreements with various ASEAN members, the 2015 Joint Communication on a “partnership with a strategic purpose” (JOIN(2015)0022), the Bangkok Declaration of October 2016, the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (31 December 2015).

While recognizing the differences in the two organizations’ integration processes, the motion recalls the strong ties and the shared characteristics between them. The motion recalls the strong trade ties existing (EU is ASEAN’s second partner and first provider of Foreign Direct Investments in the area), while not missing the opportunities opened by the US’s retreat from TPP and Brexit for the EU27. Few words however are dedicated to export of services and high-tech innovation cooperation possibilities, for instance in the Horizon 2020 program.

Relevant space is dedicated to the controversy on the South China Sea, in which many of the ASEAN countries are directly involves, calling for China to accept the international award on UNCLOS and for all to avoid measures that could lead to military confrontation.

Cybersecurity is mentioned in passing only as part of the call for security partnership. In this era, a greater degree of attention should be devoted to cyber conflicts and how to prevent them: it seems this area is not exactly recognized by the committee. Strong cooperation on data flows is another important area not addressed at all in the motion, including the need for privacy adequacy talks with ASEAN members in order to facilitate the cooperation in the ICT sector as well as physical goods trade.

Here is the full report (pdf):  ASEAN-Report-17


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