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ASEM process - Copenhagen summit: unity and strength in diversity
At the third ASEM summit in Seoul, the ASEM partners had called for the ASEM process not only to be intensified but to become more interactive and informal. With a view to the summit in Copenhagen, the Commission accordingly proposes a series of measures in the political sphere, on migration, in the economic, trade and social fields, on finance, on the environment and on people-to-people relations.
Commission working paper, of 23 July 2002, on the Fourth Asia-Europe Meeting Summit in Copenhagen, September 22-24, 2002 (ASEM 4): Unity and Strength in Diversity [SEC(2002) 874 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
The Commission prepared a working paper for the Copenhagen summit on intensifying the ASEM process. The paper notes that the ASEM process has been improved by the organisation of two ad hoc meetings of environment ministers and ministers in charge of managing migratory flows and welcomes the common ground established on many environmental issues.
It also highlights the main international developments which may influence the process:
- the 9/11 terrorist attacks. From a political viewpoint, all the ASEM partners believe in the need to fight international terrorism;
- the euro. The single currency represents a significant advantage for third countries, simplifying commercial and investment relations between the Euro zone and its trading partners;
- the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and the Kyoto Protocol. There is growing recognition among Asian members of ASEM that environmental protection must be an integral part of economic development policies and that prevention is more efficient and cost-effective than remedial action;
- the new round of negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), known as the Doha Development Agenda. Seven of the ten ASEM partners are developing countries and the new agenda reflects their interests;
- the entry into force in 2002 of the Free Trade Agreement between the countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN): Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. This will create a free trade area with import tariffs ranging from 0% to 5% for almost all internal merchandise trade, and bring the average common effective preferential tariff rate to 3.57%.
By way of preparing the Copenhagen summit, the document proposes a variety of objectives. In the political sphere:
- engaging a thorough discussion on international terrorism;
- encouraging cooperation on efforts to increase security, particularly in the fields of civil aviation and sea transport;
- intensifying informal and ad hoc consultations;
- initiating a reflection process on the management and organisation of the ASEM process in view of ASEM enlargement.
On migration issues, the document proposes:
- intensifying cooperation in the light of the commitment confirmed in the Lanzarote declaration;
- paying particular attention to the more vulnerable groups of women and children;
- implementing other initiatives, e.g. the fight against human trafficking and terrorism.
On economic, trade and social matters, it recommends:
- sending a strong political signal expressing the conviction that the consequences of September 11 are transitory and can be overcome;
- confirming that social and employment issues are an integral part of the ASEM work programme under the economic pillar;
- strengthening efforts to improve market access and investment conditions in Asia and Europe;
- increasing collaboration of ASEM partners in the WTO framework;
- reinforcing efficient use of existing instruments in defining key priorities;
- facilitating trade through the use of a website;
- encouraging economic operators to engage more actively in continuous two-way feedback;
- supporting the development of the Trans Eurasian Information Network.
On finance, it recommends:
- strengthening the dialogue on economic and financial policy, in conjunction with policy reform in the financial and corporate sector;
- the development of common action plans, in addition to the trade liberalisation agenda, in the financial and capital movements sectors.
On the environment, it advocates:
- reviewing the results of the Johannesburg Summit with a view to contributing to their implementation and ensuring coherence;
- reinforcing commitments on ratification and early entry into force of certain multilateral environment agreements (Kyoto and Biosafety Protocols, Persistent Organic Pollutants Convention, etc.);
- underlining the importance of policy dialogue on environmental matters and developing synergies.
On people-to-people relations, it proposes:
- engaging in an exchange of views on human resource development, educational exchanges and the concept of lifelong learning;
- encouraging the participation of the people and of civil society in the ASEM process; that Foreign Ministers be instructed to prepare a proposal to that effect;
- inviting members of parliament of all ASEM partners to meet regularly.
The Commission notes that ASEM has matured and points out that is not just a "talk shop" but a genuine process, preparing the ground for common action in the interests of the peoples of both continents. Setting goals and timetables for transforming ideas into action is therefore recommended. The Commission stresses the need to strengthen the awareness of Asia in Europe and vice versa.