What is ASEM?
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is a process of dialogue and cooperation involving 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat along with the 28 European Union member states, Norway and Switzerland and the European Union. ASEM links Asia and Europe by facilitating discussion on political, economic and cultural relations.
ASEM was conceived by Singapore and France in 1994. The first Summit was held in Bangkok in March 1996. The process was created to connect Asia and Europe and help raise awareness between the two regions, coordinate multilateral policies where possible, generate initiatives, open up opportunities for trade and investment and promote the development of civil society networks.
Initially consisting of the 15 EU member states, 10 ASEAN member states, plus China, Japan, Korea, and the European Commission, ASEM has gradually broadened its membership and today includes a total of 53 partners.
Australia and ASEM
Australia formally joined ASEM at the 8th ASEM Summit in Brussels in October 2010, attended by former Prime Minister Gillard. Since then Australia has been represented at each ASEM Summit and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.
The 10th ASEM Summit was held in Milan in October 2014. Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, represented the Prime Minister at the Summit. During her interventions at the Summit the Minister for Foreign Affairs outlined Australia’s G20 priorities, including our efforts to secure sustainable global economic growth. She also raised international security issues, including access to the crash site of Malaysian Airlines MH17 in Eastern Ukraine. The Summit issued a Chair’s Statement on the 10th Asia Europe Meeting.
The next ASEM Summit is scheduled for Mongolia in 2016. The next ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is scheduled for Luxembourg in November 2015. Australia also participates in a range of ASEM activities at officials’ level.
Participation in ASEM enables Australia to coordinate responses to global challenges and strengthen our engagement and integration with ASEM partners. It also allows Australia to play a role in broadening links and fostering a more comprehensive partnership between Asia and Europe.
Australia is also a member of the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) – an institution established by ASEM with headquarters in Singapore. ASEF promotes greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Through ASEF, civil society concerns are included as a vital component of deliberations of ASEM. In the past 15 years, ASEF has implemented over 600 projects, bringing together more than 17,000 direct participants and reaching out to an even wider audience in Asia and Europe.
ASEF projects cover seven broad themes -environment, arts and culture, human rights and governance, economy, public health, education and intercommunal dialogue. Activities take the form of conferences, lecture tours, workshops, seminars, web-based platforms and book, CD and DVD publications.
Australian individuals and organisations with an interest in learning more about ASEF activities can obtain more information from the ASEF website.