On 9 December, the European Union for the first time attended the “Guests of the Chair Programme” of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Defence Ministers Meeting Plus. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, attended virtually the event, which was hosted by Vietnam in Hanoi. The High Representative/Vice-President’s participation follows the recent elevation of relations between the European Union and the Association of South East Asian Nations to a Strategic Partnership.
In his remarks, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell said: “We live in a shrinking world in which peace, security and prosperity in Asia are essential for that of Europe. Having just upgraded our relations with ASEAN to a Strategic Partnership, let us work together towards these goals – in Asia and beyond.”
Josep Borrell highlighted that both the EU and ASEAN share a commitment to a rules-based international order and to the promotion of international stability and security. They both believe in multilateralism and in regional integration, and both reject the notion that “might makes right”.
He highlighted the EU’s solid track record of security cooperation with the ASEAN region. Back in 2005, the EU launched, together with ASEAN partners, a monitoring mission to support the implementation of the peace agreement in Aceh (Aceh Monitoring Mission). The EU also supported the Mindanao Peace Process in the Philippines, and it is now actively supporting the implementation of the Mindanao peace accord.
Mirroring the EU’s steps to strengthen its own security and defence policy in recent years, and reflecting the common challenges faced by the EU and its Asian partners, requiring a collective response and increased cooperation, the European Union has been stepping up its security and defence engagement in and with Asia.
In 2019, the EU and ASEAN decided to cooperate more closely on cybersecurity. In addition, the EU co-chairs the ASEAN Regional Forum Intersessional meeting on Maritime Security, together with Vietnam and Australia, as well as the Intersessional meeting on Counter-Terrorism with Malaysia and New Zealand. The EU and ASEAN work together also on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Josep Borrell highlighted the EU’s decision to mobilise European experts to cooperate with their counterparts in ASEAN countries (Indonesia and Vietnam), as well as in India, Japan and the Republic of Korea in the areas of counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, maritime security and crisis management. The EU is also deploying a military advisor to the EU Delegation in Jakarta to promote contacts, understanding and joint activities with Indonesia, ASEAN and other ASEAN member states.
For more information: