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Asia strategy

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1) OBJECTIVE

To define a policy on Asia in order to strengthen the European Union's economic presence in the region while promoting the stability and economic development of the countries in the region and the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Asia.

2) ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council of 13 July 1994. Towards a new Asia strategy [COM(94)314 - Not published in the Official Journal].

3) SUMMARY

In this Communication, the Commission proposes giving greater priority to relations with Asia in light of the growing economic and political power of this region. It therefore recommends reshaping the existing policies and looking into new areas of cooperation.

After reviewing the various instruments used by the EU in its relations with Asia, the Commission sets out the major strategic guidelines for a proactive EU policy concerning the countries of Asia (East Asia, South-East Asia and South Asia) and proposes, in particular, strengthening the Union's economic presence in Asia, contributing to the stability of the continent, promoting the economic development of the less prosperous countries and regions, and contributing to the development of respect for human rights and the consolidation of democracy in Asia.

New political approach

Within the framework of its common foreign and security policy, the EU must help to maintain peace and stability in Asia in order to protect its economic and security interests. The Union must therefore develop its capacity to play an important role in the region by strengthening its bilateral relations with each country and region in Asia.

In order to contribute to stability in Asia, the EU must support the efforts made by the Asian countries to cooperate at regional and infraregional level in order to consolidate peace and security in the region. It must also encourage understanding at international level by extending and deepening political relations with countries and regional groupings in Asia, through both bilateral political dialogue and political dialogue within international organisations.

The EU must also ensure greater involvement of Asian countries in the running of international affairs, encourage them to play a more active role in multilateral actions aimed at maintaining global peace and security and promote their participation in multilateral organisations.

The Commission gives priority to certain topics in the political discussions, in particular the following:

  • Arms control and non-proliferation. Discussions should focus on issues such as conventional arms, strengthening the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards system, policies on the export of sensitive goods and technologies, the conventions prohibiting chemical and biological weapons, and a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.
  • Human rights. This involves promoting the consolidation of democracy and the principles of law as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Drugs. Efforts must be made to improve the capacity and willingness of the Asian countries concerned to commit themselves in the fight against drugs.

New EU strategy on trade and cooperation with Asia

This new strategy is motivated by the significant, rapid and sustainable economic growth of several Asian regions. It must take account of the influence of Japan and the United States in the region. The strategy must be characterised by a willingness to strengthen the EU's economic presence in Asia and maintain its role as a leader in the global economy.

Although the EU's strategy aims to cover the entire Asian region, including relations with regional groupings such as ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), policies must be geared to each country and take into account its characteristics.

This strategy means raising Europe's profile and enhancing its image in Asia and implementing an information policy for the Asian public. In addition, the EU must strengthen its links with Asia in relation to further education and training and cultural exchanges. It must encourage decentralised cooperation between civil society institutions and improve European expertise on Asia by supporting a network of European centres specialising in Asia.

Strengthening Europe's economic presence in Asia entails establishing economic cooperation offering the European private sector a trading and investment environment which is conducive to economic growth and international trade.

In order to promote European trade and investment in Asia, it is important to get the Asian partners to change their legislation and administrative regulations which hamper the development of European trade and direct investments. Support and advice must also be given to the Asian countries that have embarked on economic reform to prepare for their transition to market economies (such as China, Mongolia, Laos and Vietnam) so that they can be integrated into an open, market-based world trading system.

The EU must also promote trade and industrial cooperation between European and Asian businesses by increasing information on the opportunities for trade and investment in both Europe and Asia and for establishing business associations. The EU must also step up support for European direct investment in Asia by providing financial incentives for joint ventures and supporting trade promotion. In addition, cooperation in the fields of science, technology, and research and development as well as cooperation in the field of the environment must be improved.

As regards cooperation in the field of poverty reduction, the EU must contribute to sustainable development and poverty alleviation in the least prosperous Asian countries by enhancing coordination between the Member States and the Commission of the administration of development assistance so as to enable these countries to participate in growth.

4) IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

5) FOLLOW-UP WORK

Last updated: 20.11.2002
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