Op-ed

The EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit: Advancing bilateral cooperation in challenging times

On 14 December 2022, the “EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit” took place in Brussels, celebrating 45 years of EU-ASEAN diplomatic relations. Alongside the Summit a number of other meetings were held, among which the “EU-ASEAN Business Summit” and the “EU-ASEAN Youth Summit”, both of which took place on 12 December 2022. Following the Summit, the EU and ASEAN are more committed than ever to actively promote enhanced engagement by strengthening their Strategic Partnership. They also agreed to expand their shared efforts on climate change mitigation, people-to-people connectivity and security in the Indo-Pacific.

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Southeast Asia’s Summit Season

In November 2022, Southeast Asia entered the centre of global attention as the region hosted an unprecedented group of major international summits: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Related Summits in Cambodia on 10-13 November, the Group of Twenty (G20) Leaders’ Summit in Indonesia on 15-16 November and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Thailand on 18-19 November. Yet, as the summit season gathered the world’s leaders to foster stronger international cooperation, the gatherings were dominated by soaring diplomatic tensions and the growing strategic polarisation, consequently putting Southeast Asia’s international leadership to the test.

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Contemplating the Climate Struggle at COP27 – Examples from Southeast Asia

From 6-18 November 2022 the ancient city of Egypt, Sharm el-Sheikh, was host to the Conference Of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC). The four principal goals of this year’s COP included 1) Mitigation – essentially implementing the Glasgow Pact; 2) Adaptation – how to adapt the strategies to stay at the forefront of climate action; 3) Finance – how and by whom should disaster-hit states be compensated; and 4) Collaboration between civil society and governments.

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The Road to Digitalisation: Strengthening EU-Japan Digital Cooperation

In May 2022, the EU and Japan decided to “join hands” and broaden their partnership on digitalisation. The significance of this digital partnership lies in its broad implementation in key aspects spanning from public institutions and digital infrastructures to digital skills for citizens and businesses. What progress has been made on the implementation of the new EU-Japan Digital Partnership and how can its impact be broadened? How will the initiative advance cooperation, as well as their respective digital environments amidst global tensions?

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Unintended Consequences of Europe’s Fight Against Deforestation

As part of its flagship Green Deal, the European Parliament approved a proposal for a draft regulation on 13 September 2022 which mandates operators to prove that wood, coffee, cocoa, palm oil, cattle, soy, and its derivatives are ‘deforestation-free’ before they enter the EU market. Producing developing countries in Asia and beyond have strongly opposed the EU’s unilateral objectives due to its potential socio-economic consequences. The rather quick passing of the regulation and limited time for consideration of its impact on third countries may actually cause harm to already vulnerable communities.

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The Significance of EU-Indonesia Trade Relations in the Indo-Pacific

While the European Union (EU)’s trade relations with Indonesia have strengthened over the years, they have also seemingly come to a standstill. 11 rounds of negotiations for the Indonesia-European Union Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IEU-CEPA) have so far taken place without significant progress due to sticking issues, including trade disputes in palm oil and nickel exports.

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EU Digital Diplomacy in China

The exclusive network environment, the distinct social media ecosystem and differences in culture and values pose a challenge for EU digital public diplomacy in China. Facing such challenges, how can the EUDC represent the EU more effectively on Chinese social media platforms, and apply the right communication channels?

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European Business and Investment under China’s Zero-COVID Policy

Whereas EU countries have adjusted to living with COVID-19 and lifted restrictions on masking and social distancing, China’s strict “Zero-COVID” policy has considerably affected European business operations. This has been pushing European companies to re-evaluate their China strategy and reconsider operational alternatives in the medium or long term. In what follows we will assess the latest developments for EU businesses and investment in China, zooming in on a number of specific sectors, forecasting future EU-China trade and investment opportunities and challenges.

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