Since it came into being on 1 March 1996, the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) has been fostering exchange between Europe and Asia in many areas, ranging from economic issues, culture and education to environmental protection. Today, 60 percent of the world population come from ASEM partner countries, while ASEM also accounts for some 60 percent of global trade and global GDP. Moreover, the number of ASEM partner countries has almost doubled from 26 initially to 51 today. Partners include China, India and Russia as well as the EU and the regional organisation ASEAN. This reflects the attractiveness of the forum and the great desire for stronger ties between Europe and Asia.
Focus on connectivity and sustainability
ASEM provides a platform for meetings between Asia and Europe at all levels, from Heads of State and Government to ministers, experts and civil society representatives. At the 12th ASEM Summit in Brussels in October 2018, the focus was on the issue of connectivity. Creating sustainable networks in the areas of transport, energy and digital technology as well as education, research and culture has been one of ASEM’s main goals from the outset. Furthermore, in November 2017, the foreign ministers of the ASEM partners pledged to make sustainability in all areas the basis of their cooperation.
From economic inclusion to cultural exchange
Numerous specialist meetings and working groups are drafting specific measures to improve connectivity within the ASEM framework. Last year, Germany participated in an ASEM seminar on Green Shipping in Singapore. The ASEM Customs Directors-General also meet at regular intervals to share experiences and learn from one another and thus optimise the customs procedures of ASEM partners. In May this year, Viet Nam will host a conference on economic and social inclusion. Other highlights of the ASEM calendar in 2019 are the meeting of the education ministers in Romania in May and the meetings of the transport ministers in Hungary and the foreign ministers in Spain in December.
ASEM is not least a forum for exchange between different cultures and societies. The Asia-Europe Foundation, which is based in Singapore and financed by the ASEM partners, organises numerous meetings, workshops and multi-day seminars in the ASEM partner countries targeting, for example, students, journalists and human rights defenders.
Asia-Europe Meeting: aseminfoboard.org
Asia-Europe Foundation: asef.org