By the EU Ambassador to ASEAN
eu-ambassador to ASEAN

Igor Driesmans
EU Ambassador to ASEAN

I am proud to present the sixth edition of the Blue Book. As every year, you will find in this flagship publication all you want to know about the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Last year, we reached an exciting milestone in our long-standing partnership. EU and ASEAN became Strategic Partners based on our shared values of effective multilateralism and rules-based international order. Regular summits at leaders’ level will strengthen our ties, promoting fair and free trade, sustainable connectivity, and peace and security. Another major event was the EU High Representative’s first attendance at the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting “plus” last December, boosting our security cooperation in the region.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated our need for increased cooperation and solidarity. “Team Europe”, as we call our joint efforts with our Member States, supports ASEAN’s pandemic response and recovery efforts with over EUR 800 million, including a new programme for health pandemic response and preparedness in Southeast Asia. We will continue our expert dialogue on vaccine security and work together to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines.

To build back better, our flagship cooperation programmes facilitated cross border trade through a new electronic ASEAN Customs Transit System, promoted the exchange of knowledge and experiences, and continued efforts to conserve ASEAN’s rich biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate change. We launched new programmes on disaster management and resilience, reducing illegal logging and strengthening sustainable forest management.

This year, we will kick off support for Smart Green ASEAN Cities and continue our work towards an ASEAN brand scholarship scheme. “Team Europe” will explore future opportunities for cooperation that can help us jointly address the global challenges of climate change and reap the benefits of connectivity and digitalization.

In 2021, the EU and ASEAN celebrate their 44th year of partnership. We have come so far as partner regions, having stepped up our relations to strategic economic, political, development, and security cooperation.

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

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