Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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EU-ASEAN commemorative summit

By Charles Michel

It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the first-ever EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. This is also the first-ever EU-ASEAN Summit, here in Brussels, here in the European Council – the home and meeting point for our 27 EU Member States.

I am very pleased to see so many familiar faces from the recent East Asia Summit in Cambodia. I want to particularly recognise my co-chair, prime minister Hun Sen, chair of ASEAN and president Marcos, as ASEAN coordinator for relations with the European Union.

We are here to celebrate 45 years as partners and to set our shared priorities for the coming years. This month also marks the two-year anniversary of ASEAN and the EU becoming strategic partners. And looking back, we have clearly shown that this was the right decision.

The EU and ASEAN are the world’s two most advanced regional integration organisations. We understand each other very well, we share the same values and the same spirit of cooperation, we both know the challenges of transforming the vision of a political community anchored in common interests and common rules into concrete reality for our citizens.

Today’s meeting is also an opportunity to bind our regions closer together. One way to do that is through trade. Trade is a powerful tool for promoting growth and closer ties between our regions. Our trade agreements with Vietnam and Singapore have already boosted our common trade and will continue to help drive our recovery and we are exploring trade agreements with other countries in your region. We also hope to develop an EU-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.

Another concrete example of our cooperation is our Partnership and Cooperation Agreements with Thailand and Malaysia that we will sign later today.

Our two regions have faced major challenges in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our societies and economies hard and caused enormous suffering. But this pandemic has also brought out the best in humanity. We were able to develop and produce vaccines in record time. The EU, together with our EU Member States, has mobilised over 800 million euros to support ASEAN and its Member States to fight the pandemic. And through COVAX, we provided more than three billion euros to help secure almost 2 billion doses of vaccines for low and lower-middle-income countries, in the ASEAN region included.

We are living through turbulent geopolitical times: climate change, COVID-19, conflicts and security challenges and on top of this, Russia’s war against Ukraine and its consequences for the world: the energy crisis and the food security crisis.

The European Union has stood by the people of Ukraine since day one because this war blatantly violates the United Nations Charter. The attempt to change internationally recognised borders by force is not acceptable. We stand for the values and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

These are not just words. These are the compass for all countries who believe in peace and respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms, and that includes respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign nations.

The EU and ASEAN have so much in common. That’s why we are pleased to work together to deepen our cooperation. We can do this in five key areas:

First, to achieve greater prosperity. By working more closely together through multilateralism, we can build a more peaceful, fair, and prosperous world. It is in both our shared interest.

Second, we can work more closely together to protect our planet. This is a global existential challenge that needs everyone on board. We owe it to the future of our children.

Third, the digital transition is a challenge for all our societies. We can work together to develop peaceful, secure, open and inclusive digital economies.

The fourth area where we can deepen our cooperation is on infrastructure and connectivity by strengthening our links in the fields of science, technology, and innovation, including initiatives that bring our students and young people closer together.

And finally, we can deepen our cooperation in security and defence across many areas – like transnational crime, maritime security, women in conflict, and peacekeeping operations. In particular, we can work together to improve cyber security and fight cyber crime.

I strongly believe we can deepen our relationship in all these fields for the benefit of our people. And this deeper cooperation goes hand in hand with the EU’s strategy for greater cooperation with the Indo-Pacific region. We want to contribute to the region’s stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development.



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