Comprehensive and multifaceted relations have been going on between the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for more than four decades, culminating in an upgrade to a Strategic Partnership in 2020. In recent years, amid the increased economic dynamics and geopolitical tensions in the Indo-Pacific, the two regional blocs have developed their respective Indo-Pacific strategies.
The two Indo-Pacific strategies have certain commonalities, such as ‘ASEAN centrality’ and ‘connectivity’. Divergence can be observed, nonetheless, for example on mechanisms. More fundamentally, while the ASEAN is silent on values, the EU prides itself on being the defender of democratic principles and human rights, and has vowed to conduct values-based initiatives with like-minded partner countries in the region.
Could the EU and the ASEAN identify synergies in their respective endeavours for bringing about peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific? As a dialogue process based on equal partnership, what roles could the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) play in envisaging the EU’s now values-based cooperation approach in the region?