EIAS contribution to the Scholars Programme on EU-ASEAN Relations (SPEAR)

On 28 February 2024 EIAS Director Lin Goethals contributed as a speaker to the "Scholars Programme on EU-ASEAN Relations (SPEAR)" organised by the Delegation of the European Union to ASEAN for researchers from the different countries in Southeast Asia. This Fourth Session of the Scholars Programme discussed the EU Strategy on the Indo-Pacific: A Regional Initiative to Complement ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

Chaired by Prof Dr Evi Fitriani, Head of the International Relations Department of the University of Indonesia, the Session also featured Mr Richard Tibbles, the EU Special Envoy for Indo-Pacific and Dr Yeo Lay Hwee, Director of EU Centre in Singapore and Senior Research Fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. The session was aimed to be a constructive forum to discuss the importance of EU’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific region and how it can play a positive role in the region, including support for the key priority areas in the AOIP.

The panel discussion addressed the EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific, particularly towards ASEAN, including the challenges both regions are facing and how they can fully optimise their relations despite their fundamental differences. The Indo-Pacific is central to the global economy while facing rising geopolitical tensions. This is reflected in the EU’s holistic approach towards the region, fostering resilience in the choppy waters of the 21st century, more specifically in the sphere of the environment, digital future, sustainable infrastructure, health and security and defence. 

EU-ASEAN relations span 47 years and have steadily progressed. The EU-ASEAN region to region relations exemplify such interaction. The EU and ASEAN elevated their ties to a Strategic Partnership in December 2020. The four main areas of cooperation under the Strategic Partnership are: economic cooperation, security cooperation, sustainable connectivity and sustainable development. At the 2022 Commemorative Summit, EU and ASEAN leaders noted that both the AOIP and the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific share relevant fundamental principles in promoting an open, inclusive, transparent and rules-based regional architecture in the Indo-Pacific region in which ASEAN is central. The leaders’ statement also mentioned that the EU and ASEAN will explore potential collaboration in the four priority areas of the AOIP and the seven priority areas of the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. These statements were emphasised again during the latest EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting of 2 February 2024 in Brussels. Titled “EU Strategy on the Indo-Pacific: A Regional Initiative to Complement ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP)”.

More information on the programme can be found here

Photo credits: SPEAR