Main results of Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) – 18-19/10/2018

Keqiang Tusk

From left to right: Mr Donald TUSK, President of the European Council; Mr Li KEQIANG, Prime Minister of China. Copyright: European Union Event: ASEM Summit 2018

This article is brought to you in association with the European Council.


Main results

President Donald Tusk chaired the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit on 18-19 October 2018 in Brussels.

The summit brought together leaders of 51 European and Asian countries, EU representatives, and the Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“We have just concluded two days of good discussions about strengthening cooperation between Europe and Asia. We also agreed to renew our support for the rules-based international order. And I believe that this is the most important signal from this summit, especially valid in the current geopolitical context.”

Closing remarks by President Donald Tusk

Leaders agreed to further connect both continents to boost trade, improve security, preserve the environment and bring societies closer.

They also discussed foreign and security issues. Leaders called for the complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and they reaffirmed their support to the Iran nuclear deal, amongst others.

The summit was also an occasion to discuss how to address global challenges such as climate change, migration, and digitalisation.

“I deeply hope that our shared heritage and historical connections will help us to find common ground, and strengthen cooperation between our continents, so that we can create a better future for generations to come.”, said Donald Tusk at the gala dinner of the ASEM summit

The ASEM summit was followed by the EU-Korea summit and the EU-ASEAN leaders’ meeting on 19 October:

Economy and trade

European and Asian leaders highlighted the vital need of maintaining an open world economy and upholding the rules-based trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO)at its core.

Leaders stressed the need to further strengthen and reform the WTO to help it meet new challenges and to improve its functioning.

They also highlighted the importance of deeper economic integration both at the regional and global level.

In the margins of the summit, the EU and Singapore signed a free trade agreement as well as an investment protection agreement.

Connectivity

Creating better links between Europe and Asia was a central theme of the summit. Leaders agreed to strengthen Europe-Asia sustainable connectivity so as to bring countries, people and societies closer together.

“A common theme in our discussions was sustainable and rules-based connectivity. While the free flow of goods, investment, information, ideas and people contributes to global growth, I strongly believe that genuine connectivity between our regions will be achieved by bringing more people together through education and exchanges, joint research programmes and tourism.”

Closing remarks by President Donald Tusk

They welcomed the adoption of the ASEM definition of connectivity at the ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting in November 2017. They recalled its main elements including the need to uphold market principles and agreed international rules, norms and standards.

Ahead of the ASEM summit, the Council endorsed the EU’s strategy for connecting Europe and Asia on 15 October 2018.

The Commission launched in October 2018 the ASEM sustainability connectivity portal . It is an online database made of 49 indicators related connectivity and sustainability.

Foreign and security policy issues

European and Asian leaders stressed their commitment to uphold the global non-proliferation regime.

They called for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula. This is important for peace, security and stability not only in East Asia but also for the entire world, said the leaders.

Leaders are committed to finding a solution through diplomacy and fully implementing the UN Security Council resolutions, including restrictive measures.

Regarding Iran, Europe and Asia reaffirmed their collective support for the nuclear deal (JCPOA). The deal is working ensures that Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively of peaceful nature

The leaders said that preserving the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of respecting international agreements, and promoting international security, peace and stability.

Leaders also exchanged views on the ways to promote and strengthen cooperation on peace and security issues including Afghanistan, Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, Ukraine.

In addition, leaders highlighted the importance of combating cyber security threats. They stressed the crucial need to prevent the use of technology for criminal or terrorist purposes, while at the same time safeguarding human rights and freedoms online.

Global issues

Climate change and the environment were high on the summit’s agenda.

Leaders recognised the serious challenge posed by climate change whose impact is felt world-wide. They reaffirmed their strong commitment to the Paris Agreement and called for urgent action by all countries. Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change represent immediate and urgent priorities, said the leaders.

Europe and Asia are determined to tackle the growing threats to the environment. They acknowledged the need to act in an ambitious and concerted manner to better ensure its protection. Leaders underlined their commitment to clean and sustainably managed oceans, amongst others.

European and Asian leaders also discussed how to manage migration flows. They committed to work more closely together to tackle humanitarian emergencies linked to irregular migration, forced displacements, and migrant smuggling. Leaders stressed the need to address these root causes of irregular migration.

Finally, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. They stressed the role of young people as well as the importance of science, technology and innovation cooperation to accomplish the 2030 agenda.

Side events

Several side events took place in Brussels in the context of the ASEM summit.

The ASEM parliamentary meeting brought together members of parliaments from across ASEM countries to discuss issues such as, the economy, security, and climate change’s impact on migration. Participants agreed on a final declaration. The European Parliament hosted this event on 28-29 September 2018.

The ASEF young leaders summit focused on the topic of ethical leadership. Asian and European students, as well as young professionals, discussed leadership development over 5 days.

The Asia Europe economic forum was centred on monetary and housing policy, global climate change, international trade and Asia-Europe connectivity.

The ASEM business forum brought together business leaders from Asia and Europe. They discussed how to strengthen trade and investment relations between the two continents.

In addition, the ASEM cultural festival took place in Brussels between 18 and 30 October. The festival highlighted the creativity and cultural diversity of Asia and Europe through dance, digital art, film, music, theatre and visual arts.

About the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was established in 1996 as a forum for dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Asia. It aims to strengthen the relationship between the two continents.

ASEM brings together 53 partners, including:

  • the European Union
  • 30 European countries (28 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland)
  • 21 Asian countries
  • the ASEAN Secretariat

The ASEM summit is organised every two years to set out the priorities of the partnership. These summits are held alternatively in Asia and Europe.

Every year, the ASEM Day is celebrated on 1 March to promote connectivity and partnership between Asia and Europe.

On this occasion, the 8th ASEM culture ministers’ meeting was organised in Sofia, Bulgaria.

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