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Coming Up In March

  • March 4th, 2007
  • Posted by EUA Editor

potsdamer-platz.jpgTwo leading events in Germany are in the calendar; EUAustralia will be there.

EUROPE AND SOUTH-EAST ASIA

On 14 and 15 March, Foreign Ministers from the ten ASESAN countries will meet their 27 EU counterparts at Nuremburg. Several trade and business matters are bound to be on the table. The EU also has pushed ahead with its doctrine of democratisation and human rights – less democracy, less progress in relations. Inevitably this will influence some of the discussion. Exchanges have taken place in the past in regard to the standard of governance and human rights in Myanmar (Burma), an ASEAN member, and in the case of Thailand this time, military interventions to take over government always come under review at Brussels.

Last December the European Commission started a process to commence new trade talks with the South-east Asian group as a joint entity, as well as India and South Korea. All three prospective negotiating partners were identified as combining “rapid growth, a high degree of market potential and high levels of protection against EU exports“. The Commission announced that the “next level of multilateral liberalisation” of trade should set up new “competitiveness-driven” bilateral agreements, which would be comprehensive, extending to a “far-reaching liberalisation of services and investment”. World Trade Organisation principles are to be deployed in pushing for more access to South-east Asia.

The ten members of ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

HEADS OF GOVERNMENT

The march summit of the European Union in Berlin, 24-25.3.07, will commemorate fifty years since the signing of the first Rome Treaty to inaugurate the initial, six-member coal and steel agreement, the Common Market, European Commuinity, and now the EU.

There is to be a “Berlin Declaration” marking intentions for the future. As pointers, two main interests have dominated previews for this event to date: the environment, in particular Europe’s responses to global warming and transformations that it may require; and the related question of the European Constitution.

While a large majority of states have endorsed the restructure of the EU, it has been blocked since its rejection at referenda in France and the Netherlands. Resurrection of the plan in a somewhat altered form would see a consolidation of foundational treaties, a better defined, most effectual role for the directly-elected European Parliament, and a much more concerted external policy, with a European “foreign minister” speaking for the bloc. Proponents of the change including the head of the current, German presidency of the EU, Chancellor Angela Merkel, say it needs to be effected before any more countries can be allowed to accede to membership.

Reference on ASEAN:

Peter Mandelson, Trade Commissioner, EC Brussels, SPEECH/06/309

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/bilateral/regions/asem/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/sectoral/competitiveness/global_europe_en.htm

Picture: Postdamer Platz, Berlin

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