THE European Union (EU) has said that its efforts to enhance cooperation with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) are part of its strategy for stability in the Indo-Pacific.
“At the heart of this Indo-Pacific is, of course, the Asean. So, we have an interest in its stability, in its security, and in its prosperity,” EU Ambassador to Asean Igor Driesmans told the media here on Thursday, reported ANTARA news agency.
Outlining the efforts made by the European Union and Asean so far, Driesmans said that many things have been achieved, including a strategic partnership between the two in 2020.
Another achievement was the commemorative summit in Brussels at the end of 2022 which, he highlighted, was an important signal on the need to improve relations between the two organisations in the future.
In the economic sector, a number of collaborations have been successfully achieved, especially regarding the comprehensive air transportation agreement.
The agreement, he said, is a very important one and has been reached after six years of negotiations between the European Union and Asean.
Another successful cooperation in the economic sector has been reached in relation to the free trade agreement (FTA).
“We have not only concluded agreements with Singapore and Vietnam, but we’re now also stepping up with other countries. You’ve seen that we’ve reopened negotiations with the Philippines, with Thailand,” he said.
“We think we’re going to reopen soon with Malaysia. And of course, we hope that we’re in the last stretch of concluding an FTA with Indonesia,” he added.
In addition to agreements related to air transportation and trade, the European Union has also assisted Asean in promoting economic integration in the region.
They have been doing this for the last four decades, and it will continue to be scaled up.
“We have agreed on a contribution of €60 million for Asean connectivity and connectivity between Asean and the European Union,” informed the ambassador.
This contribution, he said, is part of the European team’s initiative for building sustainable connectivity in the region.
One example of this effort is the European Union’s move to finance the establishment of a common energy grid within Asean so that renewable energy produced in Laos can be used in Indonesia.
“These are long-term processes, not something that happens overnight, but something that we decided to support financially, but also in terms of technical assistance,” the ambassador said. – Bernama-Antara
Source : The Star