The 18th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, under the theme of “Partners in Regional Integration”, was held in Madrid, Spain on 26 May 2010 and co-chaired by their Excellencies Miguel Ángel Moratinos, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice- President of the European Commission Lady Catherine Ashton and His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam. The Meeting was attended by Foreign Ministers from ASEAN and EU Member States and the Secretary-General of ASEAN.
PART I: BUILD A COMPREHENSIVE POLITICAL PARTNERSHIP
1. The Ministers reaffirmed the unique character of the partnership between the EU and ASEAN, the two regions of the world that are most advanced in regional integration. This is a partnership built on over thirty years of dialogue and cooperation, and based on a spirit of equality, mutual respect and mutual benefit. It is being supported and reinforced by the Nuremberg Declaration on an EUASEAN Enhanced Partnership as well as the Partnership and Co-operation Agreements (PCAs) being negotiated with ASEAN Member States, a process which has gained momentum from the recent signing of the first PCA with Indonesia. The Ministers underlined the potential strategic importance of the partnership representing, as it does, almost one and a quarter billion people. They reaffirmed their shared desire to promote political stability and security, economic progress, justice, democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social equality, peace, and sustainable development in accordance with the spirit of the Charter of the United Nations.
2. The Ministers resolved to intensify relations further through deepening political engagement and developing a comprehensive co-operation, based in particular on the Plan of Action to Implement the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership for the period 2007–2012. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the EC-ASEAN Co-operation Agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur on 7 March 1980, the Ministers expressed satisfaction at the significant development of cooperation and its diversification into new areas. They commended the outcomes of the Phnom Penh Agenda agreed at the 17th Ministerial Meeting for priorities in implementing the Plan of Action in 2009–2010 (Annex 2). They agreed on new priority activities under the Plan of Action for 2011–2012 (Annex 1). They tasked senior officials to report on further progress, as well as propose new directions for ASEAN-EU co-operation after 2012, at the next ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting.
A. Supporting ASEAN’s wider regional role
3. The EU underlined its continuing support for ASEAN’s central role in driving wider co-operation in the region. In this regard, the Ministers expressed support for ASEAN’s two-pronged approach for accelerating its integration and community building efforts while intensifying its external relations including through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference Plus One, the ASEAN Plus Three and the East Asia Summit. The Ministers agreed that these processes should be mutually reinforcing and therefore encouraged enhanced links between the ASEAN Political-Security Community and the ARF in order to achieve synergies on issues of common concern. They also looked forward to the implementation of the ARF Vision Statement in order to further strengthen the Forum’s relevance and effectiveness.
4. The Ministers welcomed the progress in amending the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) to allow the EU to join the Treaty. They looked forward to the EU’s accession to the TAC, on completion of the necessary procedures. The EU emphasised that its application to accede to the TAC had been intended as a signal of support for ASEAN, and for integration initiatives in the wider region, and the benefits that these could bring in terms of enhanced stability, security and economic prosperity. The EU, as the first Dialogue Partner to establish informal relations with ASEAN in 1972, wished to engage further with the region in order to help achieve these benefits.
B. Exchanging views on developments in ASEAN and the EU
5. The Ministers welcomed ASEAN’s continued progress in regional integration following adoption of the ASEAN Charter, in particular the efforts to realise the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. The Ministers noted the full implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the entry into force of the ASEAN-China FTA, ASEAN-Republic of Korea FTA, ASEAN-Australia- New Zealand FTA and the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement on 1 January 2010. They also noted the launching of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation on 24 March 2010, establishing a pool of foreign-currency reserves ($120 billion) among ASEAN, China, Japan and Republic of Korea.
6. The Ministers took note of the outcome of the 16th ASEAN Summit in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 8–9 April 2010 particularly on the commitment to implement the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community by 2015 and the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on ASEAN Connectivity. ASEAN welcomed the EU’s assistance in promoting and developing connectivity in the region including in air, sea and land transportation links and looked forward to deepening the exchange of views with the EU in light of its advanced physical infrastructures, communication systems and sophisticated technologies.
7. The Ministers agreed to strengthen mutual cooperation in promoting and protecting human rights. They expressed their satisfaction at the growing dialogue on human rights between the EU and countries of Asia and discussed the possibility of working together to address the growing spectrum of human rights issues. The Ministers also welcomed the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). In this regard, they supported increased dialogue between the EU and ASEAN. The Ministers welcomed the recent establishment of the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). ASEAN welcomed the EU’s support in achieving the mission of the ACWC.
8. The Ministers noted the interest of EU to explore the possibility of engaging in defence cooperation with ASEAN.
9. The Ministers exchanged views on Myanmar. They took note of the political developments in the country including preparations for the general elections to be held this year, with the EU raising the issue of Aung San Suu Kyi. Both sides emphasized that the political and socio-economic challenges facing the country should be resolved through engaging all stakeholders in an inclusive political process leading to national reconciliation and to peaceful transition to civilian government. Therefore they called on the Government of Myanmar to make the forthcoming elections a credible, transparent, democratic and inclusive process. They believed that the early release of those under detention would contribute to making the elections more inclusive and help bring about a peaceful political transition. They also encouraged the Government of Myanmar to continue to engage in meaningful manner with the international community, including ASEAN and the UN.
10. The Ministers welcomed the intent of the EU to step up its dialogue with the authorities of the country and other key stakeholders by sending a delegation to Myanmar to explore the possibilities for developing its engagement. Both sides agreed to continue their dialogue including on how to step up assistance to the people of Myanmar in order to contribute to the urgently needed improvement of social and economic conditions. The Ministers affirmed their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar. In that context, they reiterated that the future of Myanmar lies in the hands of all of its people.
11. With regard to developments in the EU, ASEAN welcomed the ratification and entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the recent appointments of the President of the European Council and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission. ASEAN hoped that these appointments will bring about regular and effective consultations between ASEAN and the EU. Furthermore, Ministers noted the EU’s briefing on their 2020 Strategy aimed at turning the EU into a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy delivering high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion.
12. The Ministers welcomed the recovery of both regions from the global financial and economic crisis. In spite of the positive developments, both sides called for close cooperation to achieve a more balanced international financial architecture, including a more equitable representation of developing countries, and more effective global governance. The Ministers agreed that by promoting trade, investment and financial links between ASEAN and the EU, growth and prosperity would be enhanced in both regions. Thus, they welcomed the commitment to strengthen trade relations further between the two regions, and the renewed engagement to achieve that, including the launch of this year’s bilateral FTA negotiations between the EU and individual ASEAN Member States. These agreements could provide a stepping stone for a future agreement in the regional context. Ministers encouraged the relevant senior officials on both sides to work together to examine further ways in which the EU and ASEAN could strengthen their economic relationship in view of the AEM-EU Consultations to be held in Danang, Vietnam in August 2010.