The 26th Meeting of the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations – European Union (ASEAN-EU) Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) was held on Wednesday, 20 February 2019 in Jakarta.
The meeting welcomed the successful convening of the EU-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting and the 22nd EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) in October 2018 and 21 January 2019, respectively, in Brussels. At the 22nd AEMM, Ministers emphasised the importance of shared values and common interests such as the principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the Charter of the United Nations, and international law that have bound the two regions in a longstanding partnership as “partners in integration”. They reaffirmed the significant role played by ASEAN and the European Union in shaping the political, socio-economic, and security agendas for their respective regions as well as globally, and agreed in principle to upgrade EU-ASEAN relations to a Strategic Partnership, subject to details and timing to be worked out.
The meeting also reaffirmed ASEAN’s and the EU’s commitment to strengthen relations as well as their commitment to implement the ASEAN-EU Plan of Action (2018-2022). Both sides welcomed the significant achievements with over 75% action lines being addressed in the POA’s first year of implementation.
ASEAN and the EU exchanged views on developments in their respective regions. ASEAN highlighted its priorities for the year under Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship with the theme, Advancing Partnership for Sustainability. The EU highlighted new policy documents adopted in 2018 of particular relevance to its relations with ASEAN, such as its Council conclusions of May 2018, entitled “Enhanced EU Security Cooperation in and with Asia”, in which the EU underlined the need for security cooperation in Asia and with Asian partners to become more operational. ASEAN welcomed the EU's interest in furthering engagement with the region through all ASEAN-led processes. Furthermore, in October 2018, the Council adopted conclusions on "Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy." The strategy called for the EU to continue strengthening its cooperation with ASEAN, a central player in connectivity in Southeast Asia, and support the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and the convergence of standards within it, including via the ongoing transport dialogue. The EU side also addressed a number of other recent developments, including deepening defence cooperation among EU Member States, as well as recent advances by the EU in promoting free and fair trade.
Both sides highlighted the importance of, and reiterated their support for efforts to strengthen connectivity between ASEAN and the EU, based on sustainability, market principles and internationally agreed rules, norms and standards. They encouraged the expeditious conclusion of the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement and supported the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025. They welcomed the planned meeting of the next ASEAN-EU Senior Transport Officials Dialogue (STOD) in Viet Nam in June 2019.
ASEAN and the EU reiterated the strategic importance of their economic partnership, with the aim of increasing and strengthening two-way trade and investment flows between the two regions. They reaffirmed their commitment to a future ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement and to intensify work towards this end. In this regard, they noted the progress made by the Joint Working Group in developing a framework setting out the parameters of such an agreement.
Both sides reaffirmed their shared commitment to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. They looked forward to the 2nd meeting of the ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development in 2019. They also looked forward to an ASEAN-EU High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change to be relaunched in 2019 and welcomed the planned launch of the ASEAN Centre on Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue in November 2019 in Bangkok.
Both sides welcomed the strength and depth of their development cooperation partnership, which has expanded significantly across all sectors. The economic and trade connectivity programme, “ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU” (ARISE Plus), began implementation in early 2018, promoting trade facilitation, and supporting civil aviation, road transport, food safety and pharmaceutical standards, intellectual property rights, regional and bilateral Free Trade Agreements, and an enabling environment for business and investment. Both sides welcomed the progress towards the operationalisation of the ASEAN Customs and Transit System (ACTS) in 2019, which is one of the main areas supported under ARISE. In parallel, implementation of the national ARISE Plus components for Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Indonesia and Viet Nam have begun.
ASEAN and the EU also welcomed the implementation of the new Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI), which advances cooperation on a number of existing and new areas of shared interest. Under E-READI, both sides will strengthen their partnership in policy priorities such as environment and climate change, as well as on smart cities, circular economy and marine litter, digital economy, trade policy, fisheries policy and Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, clean energy, construction standards, and gender equality, among others.
Both sides welcomed the EU’s contribution in 2018 to the work of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) and the capacity building that will be provided to the Centre together with the expertise of EU Member States’ civil protection agencies, as well as an increased contribution to the Centre by ASEAN Member States as agreed upon by the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) in October 2018. The meeting welcomed the positive work and efficient response from the Centre in the humanitarian crisis in Marawi. The Meeting also welcomed the involvement of the Centre in the provision of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine state.
Both sides confirmed their interest in exploring further ways of engagement in development cooperation through investment and private sector involvement, as well as exploring new implementation arrangements such as triangular cooperation, for advancing sustainable connectivity and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda in the ASEAN region.
Both sides welcomed the growing dialogue and engagement between the EU and ASEAN on broad security and defence-related issues, including the EU’s active engagement in the ASEAN Regional Forum and its hosting of the 4th ASEAN-EU Seminar on Security and Defence for the first time in ASEAN, in Jakarta, Indonesia, in November 2018. Both sides underlined the importance of further developing the dialogue on security and crisis management, exchanging lessons learned and seeking opportunities for practical cooperation, including enhanced involvement by ASEAN Member States in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy activities. The EU provided an update on its planned application for observership of the activities of certain ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Groups, to be prepared in accordance with ADMM-Plus processes.
ASEAN and the EU welcomed the strengthening of their cooperation including through projects and initiatives in non-traditional security areas, including on maritime security, preventive diplomacy and mediation, safe migration, trafficking in persons, cyber security, counterterrorism, and countering violent extremism and transnational crime. They looked forward to the adoption of the 2nd ASEAN-EU Work Plan to Combat Terrorism and Transnational Crime, covering 2018-2020. They looked forward to two High-Level Dialogues, on maritime security and counter-terrorism respectively, to be held this year. They welcomed the endorsement of the 2019 ASEAN-EU Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Work Plan during the 11th ASEAN Telecommunications and Information and Communication Technology Senior Officials’ Meeting (TELSOM) in December 2018, which sought to advance the ASEAN-EU cooperation in areas of mutual interest. ASEAN and the EU also noted the potential for greater cooperation on the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, which aimed to achieve interoperability and promote connectivity.
ASEAN encouraged the EU to enhance cooperation with ASEAN as well as its relations with individual ASEAN Member States.
The meeting welcomed the initiatives taken by the EU under the framework of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 2018, and looked forward to the EU’s continued co-chairing of the ARF Inter-sessional Meeting on Maritime Security together with Australia and Viet Nam and the second edition of the Workshop on Enhancing Regional Maritime Law Enforcement Cooperation due to take place in March 2019.
ASEAN and the EU welcomed the outcome of the 8th ASEAN-EU Science, Technology and Innovation Dialogue supporting talent mobility, joint research schemes, and a policy exchange platform. They looked forward to the 3rd Meeting of the ASEAN-EU Policy Dialogue on Human Rights scheduled to take place later this year and stressed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights.
The Meeting took note of the EU’s update vis-a-vis the ongoing consultation by the European Commission on a delegated regulation on biofuels. Both sides looked forward to the operationalisation of the joint working group between the EU and relevant ASEAN Member States to address issues relating to palm oil in a constructive manner.
The 26th Meeting of the ASEAN-EU JCC was co-chaired by Mr. Stephen Quick, Charge d’Affaires a.i. of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Singapore to ASEAN, Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations, and by Mr. David Daly, Head of the South-East Asia Division of the European External Action Service, together with Mr. Jean-Louis Ville, Head of Unit of East, South-East Asia and the Pacific of the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development. The Meeting was opened by Mr. Quick, and His Excellency Mr. Francisco Fontan, Ambassador of the EU to ASEAN and attended by members of the Committee of Permanent Representatives to ASEAN, officials from the ASEAN Secretariat and the EU, as well as representatives of EU Member States.