Towards a dynamic Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) ?
Yeo, Lay Hwee
Date of Issue2013
EU Centre in Singapore
The Asia‐Europe Meeting (ASEM) launched in 1996 is into its 17th year, and has expanded from a membership of 26 to 51. ASEM membership is made up of 10 ASEAN countries, the ASEAN Secretariat, China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and Russia on the Asian side, and the 27 EU member states, the European Commission, Norway and Switzerland on the European side. Yet, with such impressive and diverse membership accounting for around 60% of the world’s population, 50% of global GDP, and up to 60% of world trade, it remains relatively unknown in the public domain. There is also a palpable sense that not all is well as interest in ASEM (particularly among the leaders) may wane without adequate follow‐up actions, concrete deliverables and improved visibility. The challenges faced by ASEM were discussed in a recent Symposium in Yangzhou organised by the Chinese government and co‐sponsored by Laos, India, Poland and the Asia‐Europe Foundation (ASEF). Into its 17th year, ASEM remains essentially a forum for dialogue. After an initial euphoria following the launch of the inaugural summit in Bangkok in 1996, symbolising Asia’s and Europe’s commitment to step up engagement with each other, ASEM has since been plagued by the perennial questions of its lack of effectiveness, efficacy and visibility, and doubts about sustained interest by its political leaders in light of the lack of concrete deliverables. This paper drawn in part from an earlier article on The Asia‐Europe Meeting (ASEM) in the Palgrave Handbook on EU‐Asia Relations (2013), and from the discussions at the above ASEM Symposium, will begin with an examination of the on‐going debates with regards to the challenges faced by ASEM and the various suggestions to address some of these challenges. The paper will conclude with some observations on the real issues behind these debates and a prognosis on the future development of ASEM.
DRNTU::Social sciences::Political science::International relations
EUC working paper, No. 14-13
© 2013 EU Centre in Singapore.