Cooperation between ASEAN and the EU


To commemoration of fiftieth anniversary of European union and the fortieth anniversary I will begin ASEAN from overview of attitudes between EU and Asia. Extremely it important to understand attitudes between these two regions as a whole, in order to understand and to classify EU attitudes only with ASEAN.

  1. EU-Asia Relations

1.1 The EU’s Asia Strategy

EU admitted Asia as region with co-ordinating centre and developed the conception of Asia in 2001. She is directed to strengthening of political and economic presence of EU in all Asian region. Strategy covers six priorities:

  1. Development of political dialogue, in particular, in safety issues.
  2. Expansion of commercial and investment attitudes in both directions.
  3. Assistance to development of less successful countries in the region by the way of purposeful efforts on struggle with poverty.
  4. Support of the democracy, supremacy of the law and responsible government.
  5. Creation of global partner relations with the countries of Asia for work above tasks connected with globalization, in international advisory bodies
  6. at last, improvement of susceptibility of EU in Asia and Asia in EU.

1.2 EU-ASEAN relations

Let to me to proceed now to attitudes between ASEAN and European union. One joyful application already can be made in the beginning: there were no more deep attitudes between two organisations, than today.

As you know, The association of states of South-east Asia (ASEAN) covers today 10 countries of South-east Asia. (Brunei-даруссалам, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, M’yanma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam). His key position in Asia Pacific region, his fidelity to the world, his stability in the region and his important economical weight ASEAN important partner of European Union in Asia was made.

ASEAN partnership

The main ASEAN countries ratings say themselves for themselves:

Countries-members entering ASEAN, have united gross domestic product more than 656 billion. Euro. With population about 503 million persons they make one of the largest regional markets in the world.

Therefore it is no wonder that EU, in such a manner, carries on long dialogue with ASEAN. Co-operation between EU and ASEAN is based on the Agreement of co-operation, prisoner in 1980 between EU and ASEAN countries-members. This agreement was intended for facilitation of trade of textiles and goods. The program of joint actions in the area of economical co-operation was accepted. Co-operation in this area still further strengthened by the Organisation of conferences in various industries, as well as in the area of science, technician and power sector.

As to co-operation in development area there are areas, in which I am very interested as the member of the committee on development of European parliament – ASEAN presented various projects concerning agriculture, industry, transport and communication.

1.2.1 The Trans-Regional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative (TREATI)

One more large step in the direction of more close co-operation was undertaken in September 2001, when European commission presented its message “Europe and Asia: strategic frameworks for extended partnership “. He defined ASEAN as the key economical and political partner underlining his importance in the common attitudes between Europe and Asia. This moment was even more 3

2003 the Message of the Commission “New partnership with South-east Asia”, in which, apart from other, Transregional trade EC-ASEAN initiative reduced was launched as TREATI.

TREATI supplies base for dialogue and standard co-operation for expansion of trade relations of EU with ASEAN. Work within TREATI is based on gradual co-operation recess, beginning with exchange by experience and transition to development of more essential регуляторных commitments between two regions eventually.

Pre-emptive areas of co-operation within TREATI are connected closely with their own seeking of ASEAN to economic integration and include sanitary and фитосанитарные standards in агропродовольственной and fishing production, the standards of industrial products and technical barriers for trade, forestry and articles from wood. Simplification of trade procedures and co-operation in the investments area will be considered as through questions.

The committee of United co-operation of EC-ASEAN (СКК) promotes and constantly considers various events on co-operation provided in the Agreement of co-operation.

The committee on the level of official committee usually is going each 18 months. Sub-committees on trade and investments, economical and industrial co-operation, science and technician , forestry, environment and drugs were created.

Further information about cooperation between those 2 regions, click here: EU and ASEAN gear up for possible re-launch of trade talks

  1. Political dialogue

Can we call it a political partnership?

Political dialogue between EU and ASEAN takes place originally on ministers’ regular conferences: Ministers of Foreign Affairs both EU, and ASEAN met for political dialogue each second year from 1978.

From the standpoint of EU, co-operation with ASEAN plays the key strategic role. On the one hand, Europe does not look exclusively to Japan, China and India, when she pays her(its) look at Asia. Only in 10 ASEAN countries more than 500 million persons – more, than in EU itself live, – and ASEAN states have already been an important unit in Asia Pacific region.

On the other hand, Europe plays more and more an important and significant role in this part of the world. ASEAN states accepted mainly 4

That direction, as EU, so themselves seek Old continent with growing interest.

more recently this March Ministers of Foreign Affairs both ASEAN, and European union accepted Nuremberg declaration on one’s to 16th meeting of ASEAN countries Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Nuremberg, Germany.

It is one more political signal for more close co-operation in all domains. The main areas will include an active political co-operation and politics in the area of safety, expansion of trade and economic relations and close interaction on fundamental global questions, such as power sector and environment.

ASEAN states welcome scheduled affiliating of European Union to the Friendship treaty and co-operation of ASEAN (TAC). The states of EU and ASEAN state declared again of their intention to activate still further economical exchange and to participate in negotiations on agreements of is free.

2.1. Institutional framework

Let to me to state now an institutional structure between ASEAN and European union. Being the member of European parliament, I would like to tell at first of the role of the parliament.

The first parliament’s contacts between European parliament (ЕП) and ASEAN countries were held in 1976, but only in 1979 regular meetings were installed between ЕП and Parliamentary organisation of ASEAN. They pass now on annual alternate platforms in EU and in ASEAN. From April 1996 Asian-European parliament’s partnership (АСЭП) served by parliament’s counterweight of Asian-European dialogue (АСЕМ). As ASEM is wide forum, on which and the main Asia countries, including ASEAN, ASEP, analysts and analysts are presented both EU.

Before the third Asian-European summit European parliament accepted resolution, in order to continuation of process (ASEP government meeting) and inclusion to agreement, made with participating countries of Asia, democratic reservation.

2.3. Other meetings

The EU participates in the ASEAN meetings held by the ASEAN dialogue open to partners. This is the Post-Ministerial Meeting and the ASEAN Regional Forum. Both are held immediately after the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting. The first reviews are the general and economic situation of ASEAN and the ASEAN EU relations. The second is a forum to discuss security issues in the region, the only forum for security issues in Asia.

The ASEAN contacts of the EU are assured of a daily basis through the Brussels Committee of ASEAN, which groups all ASEAN missions to the EUROPEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY and is chaired by the country that holds the leadership of ASEAN. As a member of the ASEAN delegation, I recently negotiated with ASEAN representatives on the planned agreement on freedom of foreign trade between the two regions. I will talk about the agreement on freedom of foreign trade briefly. But let me first talk about trade relations in general.

ASEAN statistics

  1. Trade relations

In ASEAN trade, the EU 2005 represented 6% of total EU trade, and the enlarged EU is currently one of ASEAN’s top trade partners, with bilateral trade of just € 116 billion in 2005. This number is almost identical to the volume of bilateral trade flows between the EU and Japan. The EU exports to ASEAN were estimated at 45 billion €, while the EU imports from ASEAN were estimated at 71 billion €. The main export from ASEAN to the EU is cars, agricultural products, chemicals and textiles and clothing. 15% of ASEAN exports are for the EU, which makes it the second largest ASEAN export market after the United States. The EU is the primary investor of the ASEAN region. However, foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to the region are unequal and Singapore attracts relatively so much FDI like all other ASEAN countries together.

ASEAN is one of the most dynamically developing areas of the world economy with a significant future potential, despite the existence of very different economic and political structures and huge differences within the ASEAN group. Laos and Cambodia qualify for All, but the EU’s (EU) arms trade schemes (EDCs) are the least developed countries (LDCs), but the status of EBA Myanmar is suspended due to the political and human rights situation. Other ASEAN Nations are among the highest beneficiaries of EU development schemes, while Singapore is excluded from the scheme. Gross national product per capita is above the EU average and it participates in ASEAN assistance programs for own cost.

Singapore alone accounts for about a third of the ASEAN EU trade. The recent accession of Vietnam to the World Trade Organization marks a decisive step towards the further integration of the country and the whole region into the world economy.

The deepening of economic and political integration was outlined in 2003, when ASEAN leaders settled on the creation of the ASEAN 2020 Community, composed of three pillars: Economy, Security and the Sociocultural Post.

During the last ASEAN Summit held in Cebu on January 13, 2007, the leaders agreed to accelerate the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and transform ASEAN into an area with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and a more free flow of capital. The EU is very supportive of this development, building on its own experience of regional integration.

I am now going to talk about a bilateral FTA between the European Union and ASEAN.

3.1. Towards a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA)

In Halong Bay (Vietnam) in 2005, Commissioner Mandelson invited the EU ASEAN Vision Group to explore ways of deepening trade relations, including feasibility studies, opportunities and modalities for a potential Agreement on Freedom of Foreign Trade. The Vision Group report suggested a range of ways to strengthen trade relations: improving the protection of intellectual property rights to help attract investment by simplifying customs procedures and leveling several regulatory approaches to make it easier for business to trade. One of the most important findings of the report was that there are benefits from tariff reduction for exchanging agriculture and industrial products and services. The Commission therefore identified a new commercial strategy entitled “Global Europe – Competing in the World”. Although the Commission reiterates that the EU is fully committed to the WTO and the Doha Development Agenda, the single most important development of this new strategy is the program of bilateral agreements on freedom of foreign trade (FTAs) with a number of important partners, among them ASEAN. The document sets out that the Commission will ensure that these agreements are a “stone” for future multilateral liberalization and integration into the world economy and not a “stumbling block”. Bilateral FTAs often carry the risk of rejection rather than creating a trade and thus undermine efforts to pursue liberalization in a multilateral context.

The Commission set out economic criteria to assess the potential profit from

FTAs with various partners. These criteria include:

  • The actual level of tariffs and tariff barriers on manufactured goods and the existing barriers to efficient exchange of services;
  • economic potential of future partners and market size;
  • and the risk of EU companies being excluded from the main markets by actual or potential FTAs ​​between Europe’s major trading partners.

These criteria provide a strong case for the ASEAN EU FTA provided that there are still significant barriers to trade, the ASEAN area is growing rapidly and a number of bilateral trade agreements are under negotiation with the US and other Asian countries (for example we are Malaysia, we are Thailand, Thailand Japan, ASEAN porcelain, South ASEAN Korea).

Indeed, bilateral agreements have the potential to tackle problems that are not on the agenda of multilateral discussions and can go beyond the opening of the market that can be achieved in the WTO. Negotiations can potentially be faced with complex and problematic problems, such as the most varied political situation and level of development in various ASEAN countries. Some ASEAN members, such as Laos and Kampuchea, may want to stay out of the present or longer transition needs of the periods, like additional flexibilities and guarantees, such as special and distinctive processing. Myanmar’s political situation means that the EU will object to participation in the negotiations if the likely process of democratization does not begin.

Preparations for a comprehensive partnership and cooperation agreement with Malaysia were made in the autumn of 2006 that could also serve as a platform for a free trade agreement.

The EU may have to negotiate with individual countries in parallel to the negotiations within ASEAN setting in order to make progress or to propose a more flexible arrangement to conclude an agreement with the ASEAN members that are ready for an FTA.

Civil society groups have already signalled their concern over the EU-ASEAN FTA referring mainly to its implications for development and services trade. They asked for more involvement of civil society groups and a comprehensive sustainability impact assessment before launching the talks.

At the moment, neither the contents nor the structure of the negotiations is known and bilateral talks may last very long. ASEAN and the EU are likely to launch negotiations this summer.

From the European Parliament’s point of view I can say that I will fully support this free trade agreement, but I have to admit that the legal framework for participation of the House is very limited, as I am now going to explain.

  1. Legal framework and implications for the European Parliament

According to the EU-Treaty, trade agreements do not require the involvement of the European Parliament. However, the inter-institutional agreement sets out that in connection with international agreements, including trade agreements, the Commission shall provide early and clear information to Parliament both during the phase of preparation of the agreements and during the process and conclusion of international negotiations. This information has to be provided to Parliament in sufficient time for it to be able to express its point of view and when appropriate, and for the Commission to be able to take Parliament’s views as far as possible into account. 

The EP has recently reacted to other similar negotiations (e.g. Andean Community, Central American countries, Mercosur) in order to contribute to the accountability and transparency of such negotiations. MEPs of the International Trade Committee have repeatedly called on Commissioner Mandelson to associate the EP in some way with trade agreements. I can assure you that I will do the same once the negotiations for the FTA are open.