Factsheet: EU – ASEAN Relations

The European Union’s relations with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN): Brunei, Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam date back to 1977 when official “Dialogue Relations” began. In June 2015, the EU confirmed the adoption of a new strategy “The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose”. In August 2017 during the EU-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference, the second EU-ASEAN Plan of Action (2018-2022) was agreed.


In recent years, the EU and ASEAN have stepped up their cooperation on security, including on non-traditional security challenges. In the ASEAN Regional Forum, the EU has cochaired a number of initiatives, including on Maritime Security, Cyber security, Preventive Diplomacy, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime. The EU, as a party to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (to which the EU acceded in 2012), fully supports the South East Asia security architecture and aims at cooperating more closely with all ASEAN-led for a including the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting – Plus.

In October 2015, the first EU-ASEAN Policy Dialogue on Human Rights took place, supported through the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI). A second edition of the Dialogue was held in the Philippines, in November 2017. The EU also organises with ASEAN High Level Dialogues on Maritime Security.

The EU is a major development partner of ASEAN and the biggest donor to the ASEAN Secretariat, with around €200 million of grant funding in support of ASEAN regional integration for the period 2014-2020. This comes in addition to €2 billion of bilateral support to ASEAN Member States.

The EU and ASEAN held the first high level Dialogue on Sustainable Development in November 2017 in Bangkok, as a platform to promote cooperation on the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The €20 million Enhanced Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (E-READI) supports EU-ASEAN cooperation and experience sharing, engaging policy-makers, civil society and the private sector across many areas, including circular and digital economy, fisheries, clean energy or road transport.

The EU’s ARISE Plus programme (€85 million) supports ASEAN economic and trade connectivity in the areas of trade facilitation, customs and transport, quality standards in food safety and pharmaceuticals, civil aviation, intellectual property rights, economic and trade statistics and integration monitoring.

The EU is supporting in ASEAN countries sustainable use of peatlands and haze mitigation (€20 million), biodiversity conservation and management of protected areas (€10 million). A new programme on environmentally sustainable and climate resilient cities is also under preparation.

The €10 million EU Support to Higher Education in ASEAN Region (SHARE) contributes to strengthening the quality, competitiveness and internationalisation of ASEAN higher education institutions and promotes student mobility. Since 2016 the programme has provided over 500 scholarships to support student exchanges, both intra-ASEAN and from ASEAN to Europe.

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