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EU Focus On Asia

  • May 28th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

asean-flagsvg.pngeu-flag-site-reduced.pngEuropean and South-east Asian Ministers meeting in Cambodia (27-29.5.09) are continuing with a definite push for closer “East-West” relations, embarked on during the past month.

At an earlier high-level gathering in Hanoi, the two sides condemned the nuclear test in North Korea – while going ahead with a full agenda on climate change and development.


Government leaders from ASEAN (the Association of South-east Asian Nations) are meeting EU counterparts in the latest of a long-running series of consultative gatherings, where the emphasis usually falls on trade co-operation. (See also EUAustralia, “EU and ASEAN move for a bigger deal”, 18.3.77).

The members of ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Myanmar is the errant member under a cloud; the EU has scheduled separate bilateral consultations with that government.


In Hanoi this week, 25-26.5.09, it was the turn of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), a gathering of Foreign Ministers from most countries of Asia and Europe.

It’s classed as the main multilateral channel for communication between the two continents, operating since 1996. Members are the European Commission, the 27 European Union Member States, ASEAN and its member states, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. The 45 partners say they represent half of the world’s GDP, almost 60% of the world’s population and 60% of global trade.

On Tuesday they joined the global chorus of opposition to North Korea detonating a nuclear bomb, and following up with short-range missile tests, as reported by Radio Australia:-

“If the message to the communist North wasn’t yet clear, the single voice of more than forty European and Asian nations, gathered in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi for a discussion about the economy, must have underlined it.

“In a statement, the countries at the Asia Europe Meeting collectively condemned North Korea, strongly urging it not to carry out further tests – amid threats it might this week launch more missiles – to comply with international requirements and return to the six-party disarmament talks.”

The EU’s External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said the joint organisation had been working on getting an agreement on containing climate change, ahead of the world environment summit at Copenhagen in December.

It was also concentrating on policies to address the economic crisis, human rights, development, social cohesion, and energy security – and also wanted to extend and deepen Asian and European cooperation, “towards a fully fledged partnership”.


At a side event the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed over a loan of €100-million (A$179.8-million;, 27.5.09) to four Vietnamese state banks, to help with projects for mitigating the impacts of climate change.

The money, set at “attractive” interest rates, has two named purposes: (a) to support renewable energy or energy efficiency projects, taking up at least 70% of the loan amount, or (b) to support the European presence in Vietnam, through direct investment or transfers of technology and know-how from Europe.

The European Investment Bank is the EU’s long-term financing institution, for  promoting European objectives in the development field.

It operates in ore than 130 other countries in Asia and Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Mediterranean region, Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

Currently it has € 3.8-billion  (A$6.8-billion) available for climate change projects, of which one billion Euros are for Asia, the balance for countries in Latin America.


Far from Asia but close-by in terms of attention, senior government figures from China and the EU held their latest summit on 20.5.09, in Prague.

They announced new agreements to expand cooperation in science and technology, clean energy and small business – and endorsed the development of so-called showcase technology for carbon capture and coal burning without the discharge of carbon dioxide.

Once again the two sides compared notes ahead of the Copenhagen meeting on the climate, and they declared that in global financial crisis, international agencies should have a bigger role in monitoring, and giving warning of economic trends.

The EU says it is urging emerging economies like China to limit CO2 emissions in exchange for financial support from developed nations.


European Investment Bank, Luxembourg, “EIB loan to mitigate climate change in Vietnam”, press release, BEI/09/91, 26.5.09.

Linda Mottram, Radio Australia (“Asia Pacific”), 26.5.09.

EC, Brussels, “Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner at ASEM Foreign Ministers meeting in Hanoi”, IP/09/829, 25.5.09., 27.5.09.

EC, Brussels, “27-28.05.09  EU ASEAN Ministerial at Cambodia”, Top Events,, (27.5.09).

Picture:  ASEAN seal / flag.