THE European Union (EU) is doubling development cooperation funds amounting to over €2 billion to
support ASEAN countries.
EU President Donald Tusk made this announcement as he recognized that Europe and Asia needs
each other not only as trading partners but also as friends and allies.
“In the end, it is simple. Europe needs Asia, and Asia needs Europe. Not only as trading
partners, but as friends and allies in a world where the geo-political realities are changing fast,
and where global threats and challenges endanger Asians and Europeans alike,” he said. Tusk is in
Manila for the EU-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.
He said after Britain’s referendum last year, and rumors of the demise of the European Union
were greatly exaggerated. On the contrary, Brexit shows the benefits of EU membership more clearly, he
Tusk said the EU economy will continue expanding strongly, as new trade deals are being
concluded with key partners, including with Singapore, Vietnam and Japan.
Central to this is our desire for a strategic partnership with Asia, in particular with ASEAN,
a sister organization committed – like us – to peace and regional integration and with which we are
proudly celebrating 40 years of relations, he said.
The EU is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner and largest foreign investor.
“We seek to further open up trade and investment, year-by-year, eventually agreeing an
ambitious inter-regional framework that can set trading standards globally,” the EU President said.
He noted few emerging economies are growing so fast as those of ASEAN.
“Europeans want to do what we can to ensure this impressive achievement is sustained long into
the future and helps as many people as possible.”
He added “EU countries also want to widen and deepen our relationship with ASEAN, based on
mutual respect, common interests and shared values. Unfortunately, the world has become a more
dangerous and unpredictable place in recent years.”
With rapidly evolving international realities, leaders should talk more, meet more often and
cooperate to be able to have a credible rules-based international order “whether we talk about trade,
regional security or issues like climate change,” Tusk said.
The EU President added “ASEAN and the EU are rightly expanding our security cooperation
already from preventive diplomacy to conflict mediation and crisis management, from maritime security
to transnational crime and counter-terrorism.”