Speaking at the event, ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said that as the world’s two most important and successful regional organisations, ASEAN and the EU have witnessed significant growth in its multifaceted cooperation, as guided by the ASEAN-EU plan of action, spanning across various areas of non-traditional security, economic and sustainable development, environmental issue, disasters management and human rights.
“As strategic partners, we look forward to advancing cooperation with the EU to intensify cooperation to strengthen regional and global peace based on shared values and interests, and restored confidence in the free trade and rule-based multilateralism and to work towards sustainable development for the benefit of our people,” he stated.
“We also look forward to the EU’s continued support of ASEAN centrality in ASEAN-led mechanisms as well as the ASEAN outlook for the Indo-Pacific, including deepening cooperation in key areas to enhance mutual trust, respect and benefits,” he added.
On this occasion, the ASEAN Secretary-General welcomed the European Council conclusion on the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific at the time rising challenges and tension in the region.
As one of the major foreign investors and trading partners of ASEAN, the EU has shared interests with ASEAN in safeguarding free and open trade, including a transparent, non-discriminatory and rule-based, multilateral trading system, he noted.
“To this end, we welcome the progress made by the ASEAN-EU FTA joint working group in developing a framework setting out the parameters of a future ASEAN-EU FTA Agreement which could contribute meaningfully to post-pandemic recovery for our two regions and to create a stronger, more resilient supply chain and to deliver a new opportunity for our businesses and also to our people,” he concluded.
For his part, EU Ambassador to ASEAN Igor Driesman said that this publication this year is so special as it is launched just five months since the 23rd ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in December 2020 – an event that opened a new chapter in the two blocs’ long standing relationship by becoming strategic partners.
In a joint effort with EU member states, Team Europe supports ASEAN pandemic response and recovery efforts with over 800 million EUR, he said, adding that it is also the largest contributor to the Covax Facility – the multilateral vehicle to ensure fair and equitable vaccine distribution for all.
He stressed that the EU and ASEAN share the belief that the crisis is an opportunity to build back better and to ensure an inclusive and sustainable recovery. This year, the EU will kick off support for smart green ASEAN cities and launch other new programmes enhancing ASEAN capability in taking ambitious climate actions and energy commitments and transforming these commitments into green recovery actions.
The EU-ASEAN Strategic Partnership Blue Book 2021 is the sixth edition of this flagship publication since 2016. This year’s 110-page edition features the highlights in the development cooperation relations of the EU, priorities and progress of projects in multiple fields underway in ASEAN member states with the EU support.