EU, Asean to boost trade and security ties (The Straits Times)

BRUSSELS – The European Union (EU) and Asean have agreed to step up bilateral relations in areas including trade, security and climate change.

In a joint communication issued on Tuesday, the groupings put forward concrete ideas for taking relations to the next level with a more coherent framework for sectoral cooperation and a sharper political focus.

Titled “The EU and Asean: A partnership with a strategic purpose”, the communique outlined proposals including an ambitious region-to-region free trade agreement, building on bilateral agreements between the EU and Asean member states.

“It also aims to implement an extensive ‘package’ of new initiatives in the area of non-traditional security, such as maritime security, disaster management and crisis response, transnational crime, training courses on preventive diplomacy, crisis management, mediation, the rule of law and election observation,” it said.

The communique also proposed to strengthen collaboration on climate change and initiate a new, dedicated policy dialogue on environment and sustainable development. “It also aims to more than double EU financial support for Asean integration (to €170 million), which comes on top of the €2 billion (S$3 billion) for Asean member states.”

Ms Federica Mogherini, the high representative of the EU for foreign affairs and vice-president of the European Commission, said in a statement on Wednesday: “The partnership between the EU and Asean is crucial and we are determined to build on it and strengthen our political and economic cooperation. From trade to security, from climate change to the rule of law, we have a deep cooperation and as the EU we are supporting Asean integration. Deepening and broadening our relations with Asean is key for the EU’s Asia strategy.”

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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