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Event report - What Role for the EU in North East Asian security?

19 March 2015

A panel debate on 18 March organized by the EU-Asia Centre considered opportunities to increase cooperation between Korea, China and Japan, and obstacles to deepening and formalising such cooperation. The panel, made up of experts and officials from both Korea (Dr. CHOI Kang, Vice President of the Asian Institute for Policy Studies, Seoul; Mr SHIN Beomchul, Director General for Policy Planning, MFA Seoul) and the EU (Professor Shaun Breslin, Warwick University; Alfredo Conte, Director for Strategic Planning, EEAS) was moderated by Fraser Cameron, director of the EU-Asia Centre. An audience of officials, academics and businessmen gathered to exchange views on regional cooperation, the EU’s potential role and to gain first-hand experience of the North Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative (NAPCI).

Fraser Cameron opened the debate with a short description of the complicated security environment in NE Asia. It was against this background that President Park had launched the NAPCI initiative.  He hoped the speakers would analyse the prospects for more cooperation between Japan, China and Korea and the relevance of the EU model. 

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China’s Reform Prospects

5 March 2015

The spectacular rise of China has given rise to much speculation about the prospects for reform in China. Both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have emphasised the urgency of reforming the Chinese economy, reducing state subsidies, promoting innovation, introducing the rule of law and tackling the damage caused by pollution. This month these issues will be top of the agenda of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC). But what are prospects of genuine reform? What are the priorities? How serious is the leadership in tackling corruption and promoting the rule of law? China’s reform efforts will have a major impact on the EU and EU-China relations. To discuss these issues the EU-Asia Centre invites you to a panel debate from 0900-1030 on 18 March in the Press Club, 95 Rue Froissart, 1040 Brussels. To register please send an a mail with your name and designation to

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Event report: EU-Japan – How to Move Forward

5 March 2015

The EU and Japan have enormous potential to deepen their relations agreed a panel of experts at an EU-Asia Centre event on 4 March. In his opening remarks Ambassador Katamaki said that despite the geographical distance and differences between EU and Japan, they were essentially two like-minded actors, sharing values and cooperating on a range of issues from East Asian security to Ukraine. The two sides were now negotiating new trade and political agreements to take this cooperation to new levels.

Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, agreed that it was vital that the FTA and SPA negotiations were concluded this year in order to inject some much needed momentum into the relationship. It was inevitable that each side was pre-occupied with its neighbourhood but, as like-minded actors, the EU and Japan could be working much more closely together in a range of issue in the security field (proliferation, cyber- crime, terrorism, etc) as well as economic and social issues such as innovation, ageing societies, health, robotics, low carbon technologies, urban transport and energy security. With Abe secure in power for four years and a new EU leadership in situ the time was ripe to move the relationship to a new level. 

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What Role for the EU in North East Asian security?

5 March 2015

The security situation in North East Asia has been fragile for many years. Apart from the division of Korea and the unpredictability of the DPRK leadership, there are poor relations between Japan and China and between Japan and the ROK. There are also many uncertainties surrounding China’s more assertive role in the region. President Park has drawn attention to the EU’s potential role in helping to rebuild trust between the countries in North East Asia. The EU is taking an increasing interest in the region, recognising that its interests go well beyond its traditional emphasis on trade matters. It now has strategic partnerships with the ROK, Japan and China and numerous dialogues covering a range of security issues. With a new EU leadership team in place it is a timely moment to review the security environment in North East Asia and discuss the potential role that the EU can play

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Event Invitation: Prospects for EU-Japan relations

23 February 2015

The EU-Asia Centre and the Institute for European Studies (IES) of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel invite you to a panel discussion on ‘Prospects for EU-Japan Relations’ at the Press Club, 95 Rue Froissart, from 1700-1830 (followed by a reception) on 4 March.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida and the EU’s High Representative Mogherini recently had a productive meeting in Brussels. They looked forward to the next EU-Japan summit involving Messers Abe, Juncker and Tusk. The EU and Japan are seeking to conclude their political/security and free trade negotiations this year. It is expected that these agreements will give a significant boost to EU-Japan relations but where should the priorities lie? As like-minded actors the EU and Japan could be working much more closely together in the security field – tackling proliferation, cyber- crime, terrorism as well as regional security. To discuss the potential for EU-Japan relations we have invited a mix of EU and Japanese experts and officials for a panel discussion. 

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Event report: Prospects for EU-ASEAN Relations

12 December 2014

Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, opened the panel discussion by saying that 2014 had been a good year for EU-ASEAN relations. But where should the relationship go now? What were the prospects for the ASEAN Economic Community by end of 2015? How should the EU deal with democratic back-sliding in some ASEAN countries?  And how to ensure that the EU continued to give adequate attention to Asia and ASEAN?

Ambassador Dato’ Zainuddin Yahya (Malaysia) said that the EU will continue to be an important partner of ASEAN, especially in trade and investment. The relationship covered both region to region and bilateral relations with member states. One important question was the attitude of the new EU leadership – how interested would they be in Asia? The decision to appoint an EU ambassador to ASEAN was a good sign. As the new chair of ASEAN Malaysia intended to give the relationship a boost by seeking to implement the Brunei Plan of Action.  The EU has provided essential support to ASEAN and it was hoped this would continue in future, e.g. by support for the secretariat.

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Pakistan: regional powerhouse or dysfunctional troublemaker?

4 December 2014

Geoffrey van Orden, MEP (chair of India delegation) said that it was an opportune moment to discuss Pakistan as the election of Modi in India could be a game-changer for the region. He made a point of inviting all of India’s neighbours to his inauguration and sent his foreign minister to Islamabad soon after. There always seemed to be some forces, however, who tried to prevent a rapprochement between India and Pakistan. But a strong right-wing leader such as Modi could perhaps be the man to reach a deal with Pakistan. Modi’s emphasis on economic growth should also be of benefit to Pakistan and South Asia in general. It was regrettable that the SAARC summit last week had produced so few agreements. The domestic situation in Pakistan was worrying and the role of the army not clear. Many people also questioned the attitude of some government bodies towards terrorist groups. 

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Invitation: Prospects for EU-ASEAN Relations 11/Dec/17:00-18:30

3 December 2014

EU-Asia Centre is pleased to invite you to a panel discussion:Prospects for EU-ASEAN Relations on 11 December from 1700-1830 at the Sofitel, Place Jourdan 1, 1040 Brussels.

This year has been exceptionally busy for EU-ASEAN relations as both sides seek to build a more substantive partnership. There was the EU-ASEAN ministerial in Brussels in July, a further high-level meeting in the margins of ASEM in Milan, the EU has agreed to appoint a dedicated Ambassador to ASEAN, and increased cooperation on trade and investment, connectivity and maritime security. Next year will be crucial for ASEAN as it seeks to complete the ASEAN Economic Community. 

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Pakistan: regional powerhouse or dysfunctional troublemaker?

19 November 2014

As leaders of South Asian countries gather in Kathmandu for the latest SAARC summit,attention will focus once more on the tensions between the two giants of the regional grouping, Pakistan and India. What role does - and should - Pakistan have within the region as a new government in India settles into office and a new president takes office in an Afghanistan now largely devoid of foreign combat troops? Is Pakistan ready to use these changes as an opportunity for asserting a leadership role within the region, and moving towards détente with India? And how are internal Pakistani security and political issues (role of the army, terrorism, US drone strikes, human rights) affecting Pakistan\'s projection of its influence in the region? What role should the EU play? The EU-Asia Centre will also be presenting its latest research paper, on the ongoing conflict in Baluchistan - sometimes called Pakistan\'s secret war - and its effects on internal and regional security.

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Friends in the Asia-Pacific: The EU, Australia and New Zealand

13 November 2014

Opening the event, Mark Higgie, Australian ambassador to the EU, drew attention to the enormous sacrifices that Australian (and NZ) forces had made in Europe in the First World War. Relations with the EU had long been dominated by agriculture but this was no longer such an important topic. The EU was Australia’s second trade partner and first provider of FDI. Canberra was deepening its ties with Asia and with Europe. There was no contradiction. It was close to finalising a new framework agreement with the EU. A possible FTA lay in the future. As regards the upcoming G20 in Brisbane, Australia was looking for concrete outcomes rather than lengthy statements.

Vangelis Vitalis, New Zealand ambassador to the EU, pointed to the enormous changes in the world in the past two decades, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.  From a NZ perspective it was important to see who its friends were – and the EU certainly shared the same values as NZ. It would seek to promote these values as a newly elected member of the UNSC. NZ enjoyed a close relationship with the EU in many areas, from trade to security, from the environment to education. Both parties were key players in the Pacific, especially on energy and climate change. NZ was also finalising a framework agreement with the EU but Wellington would like a commitment to start work on an FTA. The resource question was understood but the EU also needed to decide on priorities. It was politically difficult to explain why the EU was reluctant to negotiate an FTA with NZ when it had done so with many other small countries around the globe. This situation left NZ at a disadvantage over other countries in the commercial field. Australia was NZ’s number one trade partner, followed by China and then the EU.

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