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Regional architecture

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

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 European Union and its 27 member states, plus Norway, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. 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. Information on ASEM activities can be obtained from the ASEM website.

Initially consisting of the then 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 12th ASEM Summit was held in Brussels in October 2018. Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, represented the Prime Minister at the Summit. The theme of the summit was Global Partners for Global Challenges, with discussions covering ASEM's three pillars: political and security; economic and financial; and social and cultural. The agenda focused on the rules-based international order, trade liberalisation and multilateralism. Security issues for discussion included North Korea, Iran, maritime security, counter-terrorism, and cyber security. The ASEM agenda also provided a focus on promoting gender equality.

Chair's Statement from the 12th Asia Europe Meeting Summit [PDF 113 KB]

The next ASEM Summit will take place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 16-17 November  2020.

The 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers' meeting was held in Madrid, Spain, on 15-16 December 2019.

Chair's Statement from the 14th Asia Europe Meeting Foreign Ministers Meeting [PDF 374 KB]

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.

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