The EU’s active role in the ASEAN region’s security architecture is illustrated by the regular involvement of the EU High Representative in ARF Ministerial Meetings. These include the Inter-Sessional Meeting (ISM); the Inter-Sessional Support Group on Confidence Building Measures and Preventive Diplomacy; the ARF Senior Officials Meeting; the ARF Security Policy Conference; the Defence Officials Dialogue; and disaster relief exercises. Since 2014, the EU has also hosted four orientation courses on the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), with participation of high-ranking officials from foreign affairs and defence ministries across ASEAN.
The EU also participates in the Shangri-La Dialogue every year, an annual inter-governmental defence meeting held by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore. Since its launch in 2002, the Dialogue has built confidence and fostered practical security cooperation by facilitating communication among the region’s defence and security policymakers. In June 2019, the EU High Representative participated, emphasising the EU’s increasing role as a global security player and its willingness to contribute to security and peace in Asia.
The partnership between the EU and ASEAN in security affairs has expanded to non-traditional security matters. The range of issues range from conflict prevention, mediation and reconciliation, to counter-terrorism, transnational crime (including cybercrime), crisis management, non-proliferation, maritime security, and mitigating the dangers of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.
In 2020, maritime security, disaster management and crisis response, along with transnational crime and crisis management, have been identified as priority areas.
Funded with €37 million, the EU Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Risk Mitigation Centres of Excellence (CoE) Initiative, which is running from 2010 to 2020, aims to help partner countries enhance coordination among institutions working towards CBRN risk reduction at the national, regional and international level. Focusing on technical support and knowledge sharing, the initiative adopts an allhazards approach and aims to tackle the full spectrum of risks, ranging from criminal (e.g. theft, sabotage, illicit trafficking and terrorism) to accidental (e.g. industrial accidents, waste treatment, transport incidents) and natural (e.g. infectious disease outbreaks and releases caused by natural hazards).
ASEAN and EU Member States are facing similar challenges related to violent extremism, often driven by radicalisation, in particular among young people. In response, policies are required that combine prevention, de-radicalisation and law enforcement while maintaining full respect for human rights. Implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the EU’s Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) project, delivers tailor-made actions in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand. The project is working in three main areas: conducting research on the prevention of violent extremism and radicalism in the region, policy engagement with governments to support national action plans, and engagement with young people to promote tolerance and respect for diversity.