On Sunday 15 and Monday 16 December, I chaired
. What might seem to be a rather bureaucratic acronym, actually is
a politically highly relevant event for our continents. I had offered to host this meeting in
Madrid when I was still Foreign Minister of Spain and then I chaired it as EU High
Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It underlines my personal interest in
the fast-moving continent that is Asia today.
ASEM brings together 53 partners made up
of the 28 EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and the EU, as well as the Russian Federation,
20 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat. Together we represent:
• 55% of global
• 60% of global GDP
• 60% of the global population
• 75% of global tourism
Simply bringing countries together does not, of course, guarantee any results. But it
creates opportunities. In recent years, ASEM has become increasingly relevant and strategic.
This ASEM meeting was an important opportunity to further strengthen cooperation between Europe
There is a clear willingness from ASEM countries to engage on global issues
and to take on more responsibility - from supporting sustainable development, to rules-based
global trade, to information sharing on cross-border threats, to the prevention or peaceful
resolution of conflicts. ASEM has acquired a new rationale and momentum as a key platform to
uphold and promote rules-based, multilateral approaches. In the challenging world of today, this
kind of cooperation and leadership is imperative.
In recent years, sustainable
connectivity has been a key theme of our discussions – and will continue to be so. The same goes
for combatting climate change. We adopted last week the EU Green Deal and made the
ground-breaking commitment to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. But our
ambition must be global and we need collective action. To safeguard our planet and to promote
sustainable development, cooperation with our Asian partners is key.
In addition, we
cooperate on the most pressing issues on the international agenda: the situation on the Korean
peninsula and in Rakhine State, the Middle East Peace Process, Iran and the wider region, and
efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan – to name just a few. We also work on the need to uphold
multilateralism, address security challenges, as well as promote gender equality and women
During my mandate as High Representative, I will conduct EU foreign policy
with realism and a strong sense of partnership. And I want to work closer with our Asian
partners on key priorities such as our partnership with Africa, the Western Balkans, finding a
solution to the situation in Libya, or a peaceful resolution of the conflict in eastern Ukraine,
on Iran and many more.
All of these issues were discussed at our political meeting. But
the real Asia-Europe meeting happens every day:
- when students from our respective
continents swap Europe for Asia, or vice-versa, to study at university;
- when business
transactions take place between European and Asian companies - big or small;
- when we visit
each others' continents, either as tourists or as friends, to take in the best that Asia and
Europe have to offer;
- and when researchers from our two continents put their minds
together to work towards ground-breaking innovation.
At meetings like ASEM we create
the environment and the conditions to enhance the connections we have between our societies and
our citizens. This is the real goal of frameworks such as ASEM. I look forward to doing this
with Europe's Asian partners and friends in the years to come. It's time to translate Europe and
Asia's power into a real partnership.