EU-ASEAN/ASEAN-EU Relations

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1 EU-ASEAN/ASEAN-EU Relations By Prof. Dr. Paul Joseph Lim (pensioner) MOFA Fellow Former Head, Centre for European Studies Institute for Occidental Studies Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia At ChungHua Institution for Economic Research Taiwan ASEAN Studies Center 6 August

2 A look back into History of EU-ASEAN relations and going forward The Beginnings: - ASEAN took decision in 1971 to establish relations with the EEC & there were two immediate factors pushing this: UK s accession into the EEC and GSP. UK s accession also turn the EEC towards Asia. ASEAN also wanted to diversify its political and economic links. -Joint Study Group to first AEMM then the highlight of the 1980 Trade and Cooperation Agreement, legal basis & cornerstone of formal ASEAN-EU relations which included the Joint Cooperation Committee that manages the relationship. AEMM remained outside of the agreement. - The relationship was nurtured through other institutions: mechanisms like ASEAN s PMC (1981-) later ARF (1994-), EEC/EC/EU Delegations, first in BKK (1979) - During all these years, relations were basically trade and economics. - Towards the end of the 1990 s they saw the need to upgrade the relationship. The existing agreement was insufficient. Needed to cover more areas of cooperation horizontally as well a better basis for political dialogue. 2

3 The 1990 s End of the Cold War and a turn towards human rights, democracy etc.. EU now developed a new range of agreements which contained a human rights clause: a problem for ASEAN countries. Human rights was brought up in the AEMM for the first time in 1991 and from then on bad relations. Affected this new agreement, It did not go through because of Portugal s objection over East Timor. So, what s next? 3 July 1996 Communication, Creating a new dynamic in EU-ASEAN relations with non-legally binding Joint Declaration and protocol approach. Work Programme of this new approach could not be executed because the JCC could not meet over the dispute on Myanmar/Burma s participation. Only met in 1999 with their passive presence. The EU did not give up agreements with human rights clauses. The countries of former Indo- China which wanted EU aid entered into a relationship by signing up to bilateral agreements before they joined ASEAN. They had to because to accede to the EEC-ASEAN 1980 Agreement they had to sign a protocol with the EU. One was conditional on the other s: era of disputes: East Timor, Burma, Human Rights and its counter, Asian Values. S.E. Asian countries with memory of the colonial past but now economic boom felt strong to stand up to the Europeans demanding treatment as equal partners. The second ASEM was affected by the issue of Burma/Myanmar s participation. Only two bright spots: Very good cooperation over Cambodia and the Karlsruhe 11 th AEMM of September 1994 which came up with idea of an EPG to develop a comprehensive approach to relations: political and security, economic and cultural. Need of a booster. 3

4 2000 s turned better Political Side German Ambassador presenting his credentials to the Sec. Gen of ASEAN stated that while the two sides were not siblings, they shared common genes (2010) A Joint Press Release in Jakarta had this title: ASEAN and EU: Family Matters (1 March 2011). So close are the two sides. How did we arrive at this closeness? Two reasons at least: EU was ready to remove Burma/Myanmar from the EU-ASEAN relations. It cannot hold the relationship hostage. Greater economic interests obviously for one thing. Then September 11 th which brought both sides together: common enemy, terrorism. Solana: now much more about political and security issues, and no longer just the economic issues. Much to talk about counter-terrorism and help from the EU (15 th AEMM, 10 March 2005). Aceh Monitoring Mission ( ). Tsunami (2004). Integrated Border Management System (July 2008). The summit of the relationship was the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership endorsed on the 15 March 2007 followed by a Plan of Action to Implement the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership. The whole relationship, what we will do together in the next years was set here. The Plan of Action in its phases formed the substance of the relationship. EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit, 22 November 2007 with its 28 paragraphs Joint Declaration celebrating the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-EU relations. The PCAs with ASEAN countries: first ones, Singapore (starting date: ) and Thailand (2004-), Malaysia (2006-, 2010-), Vietnam ( ), Philippines ( ), Indonesia ( ) Political ambition of the EU: acceded to TAC and now to sit at the table of the EAS. How to reconcile with the TAC which contains a non-interference clause? It does not want to be left out as it did with APEC. It is not a Asia-Pacific country. Will ASEAN seriously allow in EU into the EAS? It has acceded. Next EAS? 4

5 2000 s turned better Political Side We are in a family led on to: - the talk of defence cooperation - to establish a regional Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Centre of Excellence in South East Asia - sending a delegation to Myanmar to explore the possibilities for developing its engagement. Myanmar ceases to be excluded, no more a non-entity, a pariah on the outside. Fast opening up to engagement with Myanmar/Burma: Visit of High Rep.(April 2012), setting up of an EU Office (April 2012), suspension all sanctions except arms embargo (April 2012), substantial support for setting up a Peace Centre announced during visit of the President of the European Commission in November 2012, support for Crisis Response Centre (March 2013), now a new EU head of delegation (May 2013), Joint Task Force to support political and economic transition (November 2013), returning it into the EU s GSP scheme from 19 July EU s leadership in the Humanitarian, Rehabilitation and Development Component of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Southern Philippines (May Another CFSP/ESDP activity after the success of the Aceh Monitoring Mission. 5

6 2000 s turned better Economic Side There was the failure to pull through the ASEAN-EU FTA. The Council of the European Union had given the negotiating mandate to the Commission to start negotiating in April At the EU-ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Consultations held in Brunei Darussalam on 4 May 2007, EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson and ASEAN Economic Ministers launched the FTA negotiations. In March 2009, agreed to make a pause as progress in these negotiations was slow as we read from a 22 nd December 2009 press release from the Commission on launching FTA negotiations with individual ASEAN countries. There was no recovery from this pause. It became a complete halt. The first bilateral FTA was to be negotiated with Singapore from this 22 nd December 2009 press release. Starting date March Initialled in December Malaysia: 2010-??, Thailand (2013-?),Vietnam (2012-?) Interesting to note that the first time the idea of an ASEAN-EU FTA came up was at the at the Fifth Consultation between the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the European Union Trade Commissioner, held in Jakarta on 5 September It was not entertained. Philippine Trade Secretary Cesar Purisima stated that EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy made it clear that the EU preferred multilateral arrangements under the WTO and that the EU was only pursuing FTA negotiations that had been started before Why? At that time, there was a strong emphasis that the way to go was multilateral. Bilateral FTAs was a distraction. Why failure of ASEAN-EU FTA? Burma/Myanmar is always pointed too but was this the only reason? Singapore s banking secrecy law. ASEAN s lack of negotiating capacity and common negotiation machinery, lack of political will. Configuration issue: mandate to negotiate with seven countries leaving out the three LDCs and excluding Burma. Just too complicated to negotiate an agreement with a region and a block of countries and time-consuming than an agreement with a single nation. Only the negotiators can tell the truth. Has the ASEAN countries and the EU been disappointed? There were indications even from the mouths of EU officials that it will not work and adjusting to bilateral agreements. Not heard from the ASEAN side. 6

7 Obstacles and Opportunities 1970 s and 1980 s : development assistance and GSP The 1990 s were years of obstacles between ASEAN and the EU 2000 s : up to this point in time, sense of years of opportunities ahead but we have at hand FTAs and PCAs and we shall see how they are handled. Climate of family, open minds, positive attitudes, willingness to discuss, to compromise helps, political will. In FTAs and PCAs, there are sensitive areas which can be perceived as obstacles or could be opportunities. Examples are the areas of human rights, government procurement, sustainability clause etc.. Need to balance obstacles with opportunities offered in other areas of the PCA and FTA. External pressure to succeed like the desperate search for foreign investments and wish not to be left out from the region. A lot going for ASEAN seeing the programme of EU-funded activities for ASEAN. But what ASEAN got to offer back to the EU? Still a donor-recipient relationship, not equal partnership. EU still stronger partner if partnership is the language of the day. 7

8 Conclusion Pre-occupation: How can ASEAN be a more equal partner to the EU or with any other foreign country or grouping. How can ASEAN stand on its own feet, pull up its boots rather than being a beggar for foreign assistance? Richer Singapore and Malaysia should bank in more into ASEAN; Should take the lead in narrowing the gap with the CLM countries rather than counting on the EU and other partners. Ways of giving ASEAN some kind of self-sufficiency. ASEAN countries should pull together beyond national interests to form the ASEAN regional State; pull together their national sovereignty; allow interference in each other s affairs so as to bring together the different economies into one Single Market. A stronger ASEAN comes from a stronger ASEAN economy, a basic element for a more equal partnership. Greater selfreliance and less dependence on foreign markets. A political centre, a supranational body in the ASEAN Secretariat empowered with the legislative powers to push integration. This is a DREAM. Easier said than done but we need to dream to have a vision. Why such a dream? We live in a globalised world and for small countries the need to come together to be able to stand up to the big boys. Facing a stronger EU in individual negotiations for a PCA and FTA as small countries is at a disadvantage. ASEAN must get its house together. Will take a long time together. Deadlines are as good as they are. 8

9 Thank you very much for your attention! And now over to you 9

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