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Global Europe

Friends of Europe’s Asia programme has been at the forefront of European-Asia policy for over a decade, providing policymakers and the public with valuable insights into both the workings of giants and little men in the region. As Asia’s role in the world has grown, so has our audience’s interest in the Asia region, but a time has come to reconsider the desirability of maintaining a singular regional programme. Decades of globalisation have eroded borders and today’s digital and climate challenges only emphasise an increasingly borderless global environment, with Europe at its centre.

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Friends of Europe’s Asia programme has been at the forefront of European-Asia policy for over a decade, providing policymakers and the public with valuable insights into both the workings of giants and little men in the region. As Asia’s role in the world has grown, so has our audience’s interest in the Asia region, but a time has come to reconsider the desirability of maintaining a singular regional programme. Decades of globalisation have eroded borders and today’s digital and climate challenges only emphasise an increasingly borderless global environment, with Europe at its centre.

Friends of Europe prides itself on its ability to look ahead of the trends and address key issues ahead of the curve. This also means that while Asia may be the world’s most dynamic region today, another region may soon take its place. One look at this century’s predicted demographic trends shows that, whereas most Asian countries’ populations will start to shrink rapidly in the coming decades, African countries’ populations will boom, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. While Asia will boast five of the ten most populous countries in the world by 2050, that number is expected to drop to just four by 2075, with another four from Africa and two from the Americas. Moreover, Nigeria is projected to become the world’s third most populous country by 2050. Such changes suggest a coming shift away from Asia and a growing importance for other regions in the world, both economically and politically.

After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and an apparent slowdown in the functioning of multilateralism, growing unpredictability, conditionality and rivalry have come to characterise the global stage. Simultaneously, a renewed emphasis has been put on the need to align digitalisation with a global green transition, particularly by the European Union. It is, therefore, more important than ever to take a step back, recalibrate and reinvigorate global cooperation. In line with this thinking, we believe 2023 is the opportune time to fundamentally alter the makeup of the programme and push it in a fresh direction. Considering other Friends of Europe programmes’ areas of focus – Peace, Security & Defence; Climate, Energy & Sustainability; Health; and Digital & Data Governance – this new focus will be on international cooperation, trade and multilateralism; a programme-based approach to Friends of Europe’s strategic goal of reframing Europe’s role in the world. The Asia programme’s flagship event, the Europe-China Forum, will be adjusted accordingly, to either address a broader geographical area, or to be scaled down to one of several cooperation-, trade- and multilateralism-related events. This reorientation will, very importantly, also allow us to create more events designed to engage with less-discussed regions of the world, expanding the programme’s purview to include not only Asia, but also the Pacific Islands, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and the Arctic.

This new programme will support Friends of Europe in achieving its strategic goals. In particular, by looking at Europe’s role beyond Asia and applying a global perspective, this programme actively contributes to reshaping Europe’s role in the world and enhancing its capacity to act as an effective partner. An active focus on democracy and innovative forms of cooperation supports the building of trust between citizens and policymakers, and special events will address the new localism. A third strategic objective of this new programme is to promote a green transformation by highlighting new digital solutions and global approaches to current crises.

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