2017 promises to be a crucial year for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as it gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary. EU-ASEAN relations will also move further up both regions’ agenda as they prepare to celebrate 40 years of diplomatic relations and continue efforts to elevate their partnership to a strategic level.
ASEAN’s 50th anniversary should be a time to celebrate the organisation’s many achievements and progress, including work being done to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Southeast Asia’s economic performance puts it among the world’s rising economic stars. With a $2.4tn GDP when taken together, the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the region is already the seventh largest economy in the world and by 2050, it will be the fifth largest.
EU-ASEAN trade and investment relations have been growing accordingly: ASEAN now represents the EU’s third largest trading partner, with bilateral trade having reached €201bn in 2015. The two partners have put connectivity at the centre of their trade and investment relations, and have launched negotiations for a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA), which would be the first accord to lay out an “open skies” or “open aviation area” arrangement between two major regional trading blocs. In addition, the announcement on Friday 10 March 2017 that work towards a region-to-region free trade agreement was to resume is breathing new life into the relationship.
The milestones for ASEAN and EU-ASEAN relations provide leaders of both regions with the opportunity to craft a new forward-looking strategy for the future development of their strategic partnership. Friends of Europe’s high-level policy summit will analyse opportunities and challenges ahead for ASEAN and EU-ASEAN relations.
- Event summary
- Event report
- Friends of Europe: EU-ASEAN: Sharing experiences on education and regional integration, by Shada Islam
- Europe's World: Will troubled waters spoil ASEAN’s celebrations? by Yeo Lay Hwee
- Debating Europe: Should NATO have a stronger focus on Asia?
08.30 – 09.00
Welcome coffee and registration of participants
09.00 - 10.15
SESSION I: ASEAN at fifty - Living in a challenging world
Rapid geopolitical changes pose a challenge for both Europe and Asia. EU celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome came only days before Britain formally notified its decision to leave the Union. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will be 50 years old in August this year and has certainly come a long way in ensuring peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific while also pushing ahead with efforts at building an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). Both Europe and Asia, however, have to adapt to changing global dynamics including continuing uncertainty over the future direction of US policy in Asia and the emergence of a more pro-active and self-confident China.
- How is ASEAN coping with the many “unknowns” of the new US Administration’s policies towards Asia and conflicting Sino-American interests and rivalries?
- Given changed global geopolitics, can Europe become a more important political and security partner for ASEAN?
- Can ASEAN continue to ensure its “centrality” in a stable regional security architecture in the Asia-Pacific?
- What are the key achievements of ASEAN and the key challenges it faces as it turns fifty?
- How are Europe and ASEAN tackling the specific problems of ASEAN sub-regions like the Mekong Delta?
Pierre Amilhat, Director for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and Pacific at the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development
Delia Domingo-Albert, Foreign Affairs Minister of the Philippines (2003-2004)
Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (2008-2012)
Wiryono Sastrohandoyo, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Foundation, Indonesia
Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and Pacific at the European External Action Service (EEAS)
10.15 – 10.45
10.45 - 11.45
SESSION II: Globalisation – winners and losers
Almost three decades of globalisation have changed both Europe and Asia, creating both winners and losers – people who can adjust to domestic and international competition, and those who lag behind relatively. ASEAN for instance has seen a massive increase in its urban middle class. But with many still living in poverty, the region must also move fast to implement many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) covered by Agenda 2030, including those related to women and children. Meanwhile, efforts to build stronger people-to-people ties across ASEAN and between the EU and ASEAN remain important, including through programmes such as Erasmus+ and SHARE.
- Who are the main winners of globalisation in ASEAN and what can be done to help those who have not benefitted from economic liberalisation and openness?
- How is the growing urban middle class impacting on ASEAN’s economic, political and societal landscape?
- Which parts of Agenda 2030 are especially relevant to meeting ASEAN’s developmental challenges and how can they be implemented?
- How successful has the group been in creating a common identity and stronger bonds between citizens?
- What progress has been made so far in encouraging people-to-people contacts, particularly among young people?
Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament and rapporteur on the future of EU-ASEAN relations
Chem Srey Oeun, 2016 Young Southeast Asian Leader and Research Manager at Kantar TNS Cambodia
Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Professor Emeritus of International Political Economy at IMD
Ma Thida, Writer, Human Rights Activist and former Prisoner of conscience, Myanmar
Yuyun Wahyuningrum, Senior Advisor on ASEAN and Human Rights at the Human Rights Working Group, Indonesia
11.45 – 12.15
12.15 - 13.30
SESSION III: Boosting EU-ASEAN economic ties
Fourty years after they established official diplomatic ties, economic relations between the two regional groupings are forging ahead. With bilateral trade reaching €201bn in 2015, the EU has become ASEAN’s biggest trading partner after China, and ASEAN now represents the EU’s third largest trading partner. Efforts to drive regional economic integration and create an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan are increasingly attracting European businesses to invest in the region, accounting for 21.5% of total FDI flows. Meanwhile, uncertainties over the future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership following the US decision to withdraw from the trade pact have given added impetus to other trade initiatives including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement and negotiation of an EU-ASEAN FTA.
- How does the EU-ASEAN relationship compare with ASEAN’s economic and diplomatic ties with other global players, including the US, Australia, China and Japan?
- What are the experiences with the different bilateral FTAs between the EU and ASEAN member states and what are the perspectives for a region-to-region FTA?
- Are European business leaders seizing the economic opportunities offered by the ASEAN Economic Community and the connectivity initiatives, including in the digital sector?
- Are ASEAN countries doing enough to create an economic environment which is attractive for European investors?
- With more than 11 million people travelling each year between the two regions, what impact would a Comprehensive Air Travel Agreement (CATA) have on tourism and connectivity among people?
Helena König, Director for Asia and Latin America at the European Commission Directorate General for Trade
Ong Keng Yong, Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (2003-2007)
Dau Anh Tuan, Legal Director-General at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)