The European Union is engaging with Asia and in Asia as a strategic priority, whatever other powers may do, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini said in an interview for the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) ahead of her participation in the annual ministerial meeting between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila from Sunday. On the occasion which marks the 40th anniversary of EU-ASEAN relations, the High Representative said " We don’t want just to celebrate 40 years of cooperation, but also build a stronger relationship in the future; this EU-ASEAN anniversary can be an opportunity to bring our partnership to the next level".
"If we want to reach the full potential of our partnership, we also need to continue deepening our cooperation on security. Europe and Southeast Asia face some common threats: cyber-crime and terrorism for example" – highlighted Mogherini. She suggested that closer cooperation between security agencies would be important to ensure critical infrastructure was resistant to cyber-attacks and to counter extremism and terrorism.
Both upcoming meetings bringing together countries from across Asia and beyond, including the EU, the United States and Canada, will focus on regional and international security challenges. The situation in North Korea is expected to be among the issues at the top of the agenda, with Mogherini saying that the EU's "diplomatic engagement on the situation in the Korean peninsula is constant and intense".
Economic ties remain high on the EU-ASEAN agenda. With the EU is already the region's second biggest trade partner and largest source of foreign investment, and a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement would open new doors for business and investors, creating mutual growth and jobs. Benefits for both sides can also be expected from a Civil Aviation Agreement, already under negotiation.
A range of public events have taken place to celebrate the 40th anniversary of EU-ASEAN relations, including the first ever EU-ASEAN Run, and EU-ASEAN music concert.