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Brussels, 21 May 2010
All about ASEM - ASia-Europe Meeting to address global challenges
What is ASEM?
Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is a forum for dialogue between Europe and Asia. Since its establishment in 1996 ASEM has been the main multilateral channel for communication between Asia and Europe, strengthening interaction and mutual understanding. As one of the four “coordinators” of ASEM, the European Commission is a key player in the ASEM process.
Who does ASEM bring together?
ASEM involves virtually the whole of Asia and Europe. The most recent 7th ASEM Summit in Beijing, October 2008 admitted six new members bringing the membership up to 45 partners, together representing half of the world’s GDP, almost 60% of the world’s population and over 60% of global trade. At the 8th ASEM Summit, taking place in Brussels on 4-5 October 2010, two more members will formally join the process – Australia and Russia.
The current ASEM partners are: Austria, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, The Netherlands, The Philippines, United Kingdom, Viet Nam, the ASEAN Secretariat and the European Commission.
How does ASEM work?
ASEM's overall direction is set by ASEM government leaders meeting at Summits held every two years - alternating between European and Asian locations. The next 8th ASEM Summit on 4-5 October 2010 will be hosted by Belgium and will have the theme “Improving the Quality of Life”, facilitating dialogue between the partners on the global financial and economic crisis, climate change and cultural exchange, among other issues.
Between Summits many inter-governmental ASEM meetings maintain the momentum of Asia Europe-dialogue on all political, economic, social and cultural issues of mutual interest to the partners. ASEM is informal, multi-sectoral and flexible enough to address the new global issues and challenges arising from globalisation. It has provided a dialogue platform to address international matters such as United Nations reforms, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorism, migration flows and WTO negotiations.
Who really benefits from Asia-Europe cooperation and dialogue?
ASEM is about people and culture. It has served as a dialogue facilitator and helped increasing mutual understanding through people-to-people contacts.
ASEM brings together other non-governmental stakeholders, such as lawmakers, businesses and civil society. Civil society groups, parliamentarians and the business community meet at the Asia Europe People’s Forum, Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership and Asia-Europe Business Forum held every two years alongside ASEM Summits.
ASEM also brings together educators and researchers to build groundbreaking projects such as the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN) - the first large-scale research and education network connecting regional researchers in Asia with their counterparts in Europe. Now in its third incarnation as TEIN3, it gives over 60 million users access to improved internet network performance providing mutually beneficial global research collaboration between Asia and Europe.
ASEM also links the peoples of Europe and Asia through the Singapore based Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), funded by ASEM partners. ASEF promotes understanding and collaboration between the peoples of Asia and Europe through cultural, intellectual and people-to-people exchanges. The outreach to civil society and the wider public undertaken by ASEF complements the official ASEM dialogues, and the ASEM InfoBoard internet site managed by ASEF provides transparency on the ASEM programme.
Why is ASEM so important today?
In the face of global challenges like the financial and economic crisis, climate change, poverty and conflict, the ASEM partners have committed to working together for cooperative, multilateral solutions. Recent international developments have shown that in such a fast-changing world, the ability to react swiftly and coherently is key, which requires intense dialogue and enhanced cooperation among key partners.
It is for this reason that ASEM's unique flexibility as a channel for dialogue based on reciprocity, balance and transparency is of such value today. The agenda of the ASEM summits are established collectively, in all transparency and through an inclusive process of consultation involving every ASEM partner. It is a process that stretches up until the very day of the summit, aiming to reflect the up-to-the-minute priorities of its national partners and to address them on the international stage.
More information on ASEM is available on the internet