Summary: EU celebrates 25 years of co-operation with ASEAN (9 December 2005: Brussels)
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On December 9th, the European Union celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Co-operation Agreement with ASEAN; the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Over the last twenty five years, there has been a strengthening of EU’s relations with ASEAN and many concrete achievements. The EU’s co-operation with ASEAN is comprehensive and covers political, economic and security challenges faced by both regions.
European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner said: “We can be proud of the way the EU-ASEAN relationship has developed in the last twenty five years. Our cooperation is not simply a political or economic arrangement - it has an important human dimension. Last year’s tragic Tsunami served to demonstrate an instinctive feeling of solidarity between our people. Cooperation in the humanitarian and reconstruction work between EU and ASEAN states as well as in the ACEH peace process shows how much potential this partnership has. In the next 25 years we can do much more together”.
Since the signature of the Co-operation Agreement in 1980 both regions, Europe and ASEAN, have undergone profound changes. ASEAN has grown to ten members and now includes, Brunei, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Poverty has been reduced at an unprecedented pace, economies enjoy impressive growth rates and democracy is gaining ground. The European Union (EU) has also undergone major changes, enlarging to 25 member countries and adopting a single currency.
The EU has a growing political dialogue with ASEAN and is ASEAN’s second largest export market and third largest trading partner after the United States and Japan. The EU is working to harness further trading opportunities and build growth and prosperity to the mutual benefit of both regions, including looking into the possibility of an EU-ASEAN free trade area.
The EU supports ASEAN’s efforts towards greater regional integration. We are pursuing region-to-region dialogue on policy sectors, such as trade, avian influenza, information and communication technologies, climate change, transport. and communicable diseases.
The strength of EU links with ASEAN member countries was demonstrated following last year’s tragic Tsunami. In the aftermath of the catastrophe, the EU co-operated effectively with a number of countries to bring humanitarian aid where it was needed, with the first help already on its way from Europe just hours after the Tsunami struck. The EU continues to work with ASEAN countries to reconstruct the devastated areas. So far the EU has promised €1.5 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction and the money is being made available promptly.
The EU also helped provide funding and support for President Ahtisaari’s mediation between the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the Government of Indonesia. Immediately after the signature of the peace agreement in August this year, an unprecedented joint mission between EU Member States and ASEAN was launched to monitor the development. This mission is supported by a number of assistance programmes contributed by the European Commission, including support for the reintegration of GAM combatants.
For more information on EU–ASEAN relations, see: