June 3, 2009
Overshadowed by increased military tension in the Korean peninsula, the 17th EU-ASEAN Summit held in Phnom Penh last week has nevertheless achieved a few notable successes.
Before the start of the meeting, Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner had expressed the view that : “the EU and ASEAN are two successful examples of regional integration in the world” (Phnom Penh Post).
The summit was attended by 40 foreign ministers from the EU countries and ASEAN and had as its main theme the “ASEAN-EU Partnership for Peace, Economic Growth and Development”. Last Thursday, the representatives of the two trade blocs signed two very important documents, aimed at fast-tracking the EU’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation (TAC) in Southeast Asia. Representatives also agreed to continue to promote an EU-ASEAN Free Trade Area (FTA) which, once operational, would facilitate trade and investment between the two blocs.
The ministers present also discussed issues colateral to trade, such as terrorism, human and drugs smuggling, the tense situation in Myanmar and that in the Korean peninsula. Together, they agreed to implement the Phnom Penh Agenda, which mandates that all governments concerned should take between 2009 and 2010 all the necessary steps to facilitate co-operation between members of the two blocs in all fields of endeavour.
The signing of the documents about the EU’s forthcoming accession to the TAC was labelled by the Chairman of the summit, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as “another significant step forward in ASEAN-EU relations.”Florian Pantazi