By the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships

Jutta Urpilainen
EU Commissioner for International Partnerships

I welcome the longstanding, dynamic and broadbased relationship of the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as we stand as Strategic Partners in 2021. Together, we share a commitment to implement the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. In a challenging global context where models of inclusive governance are put to the test, it is more important than ever to stand for multilateralism, a rules-based global order, and responsible leadership based on peace, freedom and solidarity.

At an important juncture in our fight against COVID-19, these joint commitments are essential to battle its consequences on our economies, citizens and societies. Global solidarity and cooperation are crucial to end the pandemic, as no one is safe until everyone is safe. The EU has been committed from the start to making the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good and will continue to work together with international partners such as ASEAN, to ensure safe and fair access to vaccines for all.

These global commitments are also an integral part of both the EU and ASEAN regional integration processes, helping to ensure a sustainable and people-centred approach, which leaves no one behind. In this regard, our ASEAN-EU Sustainable Development Dialogue is an essential platform to exchange views, share experiences and take stock of the progress achieved, reinforcing our partnership towards longer-term objectives and concrete activities. Such objectives include the transition towards circular, climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable economies and resilient ecosystems as well as sustainable connectivity, as reaffirmed in our ASEAN-EU Joint Ministerial Statement on Connectivity adopted last year. The EU and ASEAN can notably build on their strong and successful cooperation on soft connectivity, which supports regulatory and policy frameworks to enable trade, policy dialogues to strengthen the links between citizens, businesses and institutions and strengthening people-to-people exchanges. I am delighted that we have established our Dialogue as a regular event.

As Commissioner for International Partnerships, I have put human development, in particular education, at the heart of our partnerships and made it my mission to ensure youth and women are not only included but also empowered. I am delighted to see that ASEAN has similarly put people at the
core of its comprehensive recovery framework, focusing notably on skills, education and gender equality, testifying to our common interests and objectives at regional level. The EU as part of ‘Team Europe’ will aim to provide stronger and more coordinated support to ASEAN and its member states. It will continue to work together with ASEAN to ensure our recovery efforts lead to a greener, more equal, and digital future.
Despite the pandemic, our partnership was quick to adapt to new global realities and has continued delivering on its positive and dynamic agenda. This sixth edition of the EUASEAN Blue Book demonstrates the resilience, importance and relevance of our partnership in the new global context but also for the lives of our citizens.