Vietnam in the EU-ASEAN relations

Since the start of its Doi Moi renewal process, Vietnam has substantially reshaped its foreign relations. Its accession to ASEAN in July 1995 marked the start of it integration in the region, which since has gained ever more momentum. Although among the less developed ASEAN members, Vietnam is playing an increasingly active role in ASEAN, inter alia promoting stronger ASEAN solidarity and cooperation, and its ASEAN identity has become an important feature of Vietnam's foreign policy.

The EU is a longstanding dialogue partner of ASEAN. Cooperation between the EU and ASEAN is based on the 1980 EC-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement, to which all ASEAN members except, for the time being, Burma/Myanmar are parties. Vietnam formally acceded to the Agreement on 1 May 1999. On 9 July 2003, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a New partnership with South East Asia pdf - 496 KB [496 KB] , setting out a comprehensive strategy for future EU relations with the region. This document, strongly endorsed by the Council of the EU, proposed revitalising the EU's relations with ASEAN and the countries of South East Asia across the board, in areas ranging from security issues, human rights, democracy and good governance, across justice and home affairs, to trade and investment and development cooperation. As an active partner in ASEAN, Vietnam has an important role to play in furthering this new partnership between the EU and ASEAN and its key components, the Trans-Regional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative (TREATI) and the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI). In addition, Vietnam acts as the ASEAN coordinator for the negotiations of an EU-ASEAN FTA, which were launched on 5th May, 2007.

Vietnam is also a founding member of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process. Launched in 1996, ASEM is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation, bringing together the 28 EU Member States and the European Commission with all ASEAN members as well as China, Japan, and South Korea, India, Mongolia and Pakistan. The ASEM dialogue aims to strengthen the relationship between the two regions, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership, by means of an enhanced political dialogue, reinforced economic cooperation, as well as cooperation in other areas (social, cultural and intellectual).

Vietnam successfully hosted the 5th ASEM Summit in October 2004 and the ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM9) in May 2009, and has made a crucial contribution in fostering ever closer cooperation between the two regions. Vietnam became the ASEAN coordinator for relations with the EU at the end of 2012.

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