ASEM Summit: Europe and Asia reaffirm shared partnership and engagement to a stronger recovery from the pandemic

(Credit: Unsplash)

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


During the 13th Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit on 25-26 November which took place in virtual format from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, leaders reaffirmed their shared partnership and engagement in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the title ‘Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth’, the Summit brought together Heads of State or Government of 30 European States and 20 Asian partners, the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretary-General. President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and President of the European Council, Charles Michel, represented the European Union at the Summit. Leaders exchanged on global challenges and on a post-pandemic sustainable socio-economic recovery, to agree on ways to ensure a green recovery, and to reinforce cooperation on foreign and security policies.

In her opening speech, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “For more than 25 years, the Asia-Europe Meeting has been the most comprehensive partnership forum between Asia and Europe. It has helped us tackle some of the big challenges of the day. In the years to come, this partnership will be even more important to recover from the pandemic. Together, we need to rebuild a more sustainable and equitable world, and we need to strengthen multilateralism. Because Asia and Europe are closely connected and together, we have significant weight in the world.”

Following the COP26 in Glasgow, the ASEM Summit was the most important multilateral meeting in autumn 2021. The EU and its ASEM partners are highly interconnected, with many shared interests and solid ties, from trade and investments to research and development, as well as sustainable development, climate change, biodiversity protection and security. With its Indo-Pacific Strategy adopted in September 2021, the EU has reinforced its strategic focus, presence and actions in the region to contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development, at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.

EU-Asia connectivity remain a major focus of the EU. In her speech, the President announced that the Commission will soon present the ‘Global Gateway’ strategy. It will build on the 2018 EU-Asia connectivity strategy updating it to the current context, notably with a global scope and more clearly defined financing tools from the EU.

Background

The 13th ASEM took place following earlier postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The previous, 12th ASEM Summit took place in Brussels on 18-19 October 2018. Established in 1996, ASEM is an informal platform for political dialogue and cooperation, which now brings together 53 partners, making it the biggest international leaders’ gathering after United Nations General Assembly. It consists of 51 partner countries and 2 organisational” partners (the EU and ASEAN). Of the 51 partner countries, 30 are in the ‘European Group‘- 27 EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the UK. The EEAS coordinates the European Group, together with the Council Presidency, which is an informal secretariat role.

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