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Europe and South-east Asia

  • March 14th, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu_asean_thumb.jpgForeign Ministers of the European Union and ASEAN are meeting this week (14-15.3.07) at Nuremburg in Germany, with plans for strengthening their agreements on security, economic development, energy and the environment.

The meetings take place every two years and this time, the thirtieth anniversary of EU-ASEAN co-operation, the European External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said the relationship was “ready to shift up a gear”.

It was prepared to confirm this by signing ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Co-operation.

She said Europe would do all it could to support ASEAN’s efforts to bring greater stability and prosperity to the South-east Asian region, including its project for creating a single market by 2015.

Co-operation to date had included a successful joint monitoring mission during the peace process in Aceh, Indonesia, and the two sides were working on a Vision Statement which would outline further joint action.

Earlier this week, as European host, the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, had direct talks with Ministers from Indonesia and Laos.

The two groups of countries have had to work through contentious issues in the past, over trade, protection of forests, and human rights.

This year the European Commission has been seeking to open discussions on more trade liberalisation, especially in services and investment, saying it’s concerned about high levels of protection by ASEAN countries against its exports.

It has currently committed EU 80-million (A$135; to regional development projects in South-east Asia.

ASEAN, the Association of South-east Asian Nations, has ten member states: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Picture: ASEAN and EU logos.