Europe and Southeast Asia are two key players in today’s global economy who have much in common. Their populations are nearly identical in terms of size, they have both moved towards regional economic integration, and they share many of the same values. It is therefore quite logical that, for over 30 years, the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have enjoyed an increasingly positive and fruitful dialogue.
The signing in 1980 of a Cooperation Agreement laid the foundation for cooperation between the two regions to promote trade, investment and business. In recent years, efforts have been made by both sides to further strengthen the relationship. In July 2003 the European Commission adopted a Communication on a “New Partnership with Southeast Asia”, setting out a comprehensive strategy for future EU relations, both regional and bilateral, a strategy that was later endorsed by the European Council in 2004.
The Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Partnership of 15 March 2007 (released with a joint Plan of Action) recognises the importance of Southeast Asia as a region, and calls for the deepening of the level of cooperation, including science and technology, between the EU and ASEAN. On November 22, 2007, in Singapore, on the occasion of the first-ever EU-ASEAN Summit, a Joint Declaration was signed, endorsing in particular the Plan of Action.
The EU is, for ASEAN, the first export region (113 billion USD in 2008) and the third import region after China and Japan (89 billion USD in 2008). The EU is also the first source of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow to ASEAN (13 billion USD in 2008). End of 2009, the launch of free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between the EU and individual ASEAN countries, starting with Singapore, was announced, while EU-ASEAN FTA negotiations faced a pause in their process.
At a time when science and technology (S&T), information and communication technologies (ICT), and international cooperation are considered by all modern economies to be key drivers in achieving sustainable development, prosperity, and economic growth, cooperation on ICT research between Europe and Southeast Asia can only support the strengthening of relations between the two regions. In this context, “EU-ASEAN Information Society dialogues” are being regularly held since 2006.
The EU and Southeast Asia have indeed entered into a new phase of S&T cooperation in ICT, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels. This new phase will build upon what has been achieved thus far (see the Success stories section of this web site), should be more balanced and of mutual benefit, and should focus on a set of well defined strategic cooperation priorities.
The European research priorities in ICT are clearly defined through the FP7 ICT Work Programme. The Southeast Asian priorities, at the regional level, are not yet defined through a comparable work programme and the SEACOOP project will strive to contribute identifying them. However, the way is already paved through the work of many ASEAN instances. In particular the work of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST), at its Ministerial level (AMMST) and at the one of its sub-Committees (namely the Sub-Committee on Micro-Electronics and Information Technology, SCMIT) has to be taken into consideration.
In this context, one of the main reference documents on the Southeast Asian side when identifying possible strategic areas of mutual interest with Europe in ICT research is the ASEAN Plan of action on Science and Technology (APAST) for 2007-2011 (see related link below) prepared under the aegis of ASEAN COST. The ASEAN ICT Master Plan for 2015 (see also below), developed under the aegis of the ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (TELMIN) and through its instances TELSOM and ATRC, has also to be considered in such an exercise even if it does not target ICT research but addresses the overall framework, infrastructures and regulatory issues.
- A new partnership with Southeast Asia (European Commission – 2004)
- Nuremberg declaration on EU-ASEAN enhanced partnership (March 2007) and joint Plan of Action
- The European Union and Singapore: R&D Cooperation for the future (European Commission – 2007)
- EU-ASEAN joint declaration of November 2007
- ASEAN 2008-2009 report (ASEAN)
- ASEAN statistical yearbook 2008
- New business opportunities for EU companies in the ASEAN area (EuropAid cooperation Office)
- A new approach to international S&T cooperation in the EU’s 7th framework programme (European Commission)
- Drivers of international collaboration in research (EC –2010)
- Information Society and External Relations: linking European policies (European Commission)
- i2010 mid-term review 2008 (European Commission)
- S&T Cooperation between the ASEAN and the EU: past achievements and future prospects (European Commission – 2008)
- ASEAN Plan of action on Science and Technology (2007-2011)
- Blueprint for the ASEAN socio-cultural community (2009-2015)
- ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2015