The Blue Book 2020

Forewords to the The Blue Book 2020


By the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships

Against a backdrop of volatile geopolitics and challenges on both sides, the EU ASEAN “partnership in integration” remains more vital than ever. Indeed our common agenda far outweighs the challenges we face.

Our two regions, bring together over one billion people and two of the world’s largest economic areas. We have made joint commitments towards inclusive sustainable development including the pursuit of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We have worked hard together to make tangible progress on those commitments.

The European Commission, which I am proud to be part of, has put its geopolitical ambitions high on the agenda and framed its approach to promote a “Union that strives for more”. As Commissioner for International Partnerships, I will seek ever closer and stronger cooperation with all interested parties in the pursuit of our shared interests and priorities.

ASEAN has proven to be a very important, reliable and highly aligned partner for the EU across a wide range of policy areas and I will personally engage to set our ambitions even higher. I firmly believe that the great challenges of our times – climate change and green transition, digital transformation, migration and reconciling jobs, growth and solidarity – will require us all to be much more ambitious. We must live up to our responsibility to make this world a liveable one for our children and to provide prospects for our youth.

The EU and ASEAN already demonstrate a unique brand of responsible global leadership that has an enormous potential. We can tap into this potential to create more synergies and enhance our cooperation across political, economic, social and cultural areas in pursuit of sustainable development.

The EU-ASEAN Blue Book, already in its fifth edition, highlights the relevance and impact of our joint cooperation. It provides an inspiring overview of what we can achieve when we work together. Hand in hand, let us continue to set our ambitions high, and show courage and determination when walking into the new decade together.

Jutta Urpilainen
EU Commissioner for International Partnerships


By the EU Ambassador to ASEAN

I am proud to present the fifth edition of the Blue Book, our annual publication showcasing cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

As the new EU Ambassador to ASEAN, I am glad to share with you the new priorities of the European Commission, which focus on the environment and digitalisation, as well as social fairness and prosperity. This includes the recently announced European Green Deal, which charts the path to a sustainable green transition that is just, socially fair, and leaves no individual or region behind.

In 2019, we launched several new programmes that will help realise the Green Deal, including the EU Support to Sustainable Peatland and Haze Mitigation which aims to combat transboundary haze pollution and peatland fires across the ASEAN region. Other new programmes include our support to the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management, and an upcoming Smart Green ASEAN Cities project, which will promote sustainable urbanisation in several ASEAN cities to improve the quality of life for their inhabitants.

Also in 2019, we held the first ever ASEAN-EU High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate Change, where issues such as mitigation, adaptation, long-term strategies and sustainable finance were discussed.

Our three flagship cooperation initiatives – E-READI, ARISE+ and EU SHARE – implemented numerous activities throughout 2019 that provided support in areas as diverse as digital economy, regional trademark registration, circular economy for plastics, and the ASEAN Higher Education Vision 2025.

Over more than 40 years, the partnership between the EU and ASEAN has delivered impressive results. Our deepening relationship now goes far beyond the traditional economic focus, having expanded to include political dialogue as well as development and security cooperation.

These advances should ultimately serve one purpose – making a positive change in the lives of the people of Europe and Asia. The following pages illustrate how our diverse cooperation is doing just that, through tangible impacts on individuals and communities.

Thank you for your interest and I hope you enjoy reading our publication.

Igor Driesmans
EU Ambassador to ASEAN