19th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting AEMM

The 19th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) ended in Brunei Friday, with the European Union (EU) officials signalling intention to join the East Asia Summit and a would-be non-aggression treaty with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as EU moves to play a bigger role in Asia.

The two regional blocs also agreed to greater economic cooperation, lauding the “rapid progress” in negotiations for bilateral trade agreements with key ASEAN partners, paving the way for a single ASEAN-EU free trade agreement.

Mohamed Bolkiah, Brunei’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, said it was good to see “practical results” from the conclusion of the 19th AEMM.

“This will strengthen the development of all ASEAN member states. We are grateful for the support of the European Union,” he told a press conference after the meeting.

EU is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner and single largest investor with trade volume topping 200 billion U.S. dollars.

Catherine Ashton, EU’s high representative for Foreign Affairs and Political Security, said both parties look forward to an early signature to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, which bans signatories from using violence to settle conflicts in the region

“Developing our relations with Asia across the board is a major strategic objective for the European Union,” she said, “The European Union wants to be an active and constructive player in Asian regionalism, including by taking part in the East Asia Summit (EAS).”

Brunei will chair the EAS next year when it takes over the ASEAN chairmanship.

The two regions have drawn up an ambitious five-year plan of action for enhanced cooperation across economic, political and administrative spheres, and have agreed to boost cooperation in maritime security, energy security, crisis management, human rights and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Mohamed Bolkiah said the meeting was an excellent platform to hear directly from the EU on a range of issues such as the Eurozone crisis and global political problems.

The Ministers from ASEAN members states have welcomed the EU’s decision to suspend part of sanctions on Myanmar.

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