ASEAN-EU Relations: The European Union’s Engagement in ASEAN and Common Grounds for Cooperation
The European Union (EU) and ASEAN have come a long way in their economic relationship. With the recent culmination of the ASEAN-EU Strategic Partnership, prospects for reopening negotiations for their free trade agreement (FTA) present an indisputable opportunity. The changing nature of global politics has emphasised ASEAN’s centrality as a growing economic force. In the wake of the rising US-China tensions, ASEAN has found itself with a stronger convening power and presents a path in the EU’s ‘beyond China’ approach for Asia, with around 40% of the EU’s international trade going through the South China Sea. The Southeast Asian region is the subject of European strategic interest with the EU’s clear interest in either joining existing mechanisms like the East Asia Summit, or recreating them, though Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM). The Strategic Partnership presents a new chapter in the right direction. This paper will present key areas of EU interests for potential political cooperation between the regional organisations. First, with the global challenging environment with China and the US, there are mutual gains in a stronger political partnership. Secondly, the EU has a real opportunity to emerge as a closer partner to ASEAN with the recovery of the Covid-19 pandemic. And thirdly, common rules paving the way to regulate the digital economic environment and setting standards for connectivity projects.
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