Tusk makes case for tighter link be­tween EU, ASEAN

China Daily - - WORLD - By FU JING in Brus­sels fu­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The European Union made its de­but at the ASEAN and East Asia lead­ers’ meet­ings on Tues­day in an at­tempt to strengthen ties in the re­gion.

Speak­ing at the on­go­ing talks in Manila in the Philip­pines, European Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk said the need for co­op­er­a­tion on the econ­omy and se­cu­rity was greater than ever.

Tusk, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who is on his fi­nal leg of his five-Asian-coun­try tour, Chi­nese Premier Li Ke­qiang and other lead­ers have at­tended var­i­ous meet­ings and dis­cus­sions since the Manila talks be­gan on Mon­day.

On Tues­day, EU and ASEAN lead­ers met to mark the 40th an­niver­sary of the part­ner­ship be­tween the two re­gional blocs, while Tusk high­lighted se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion at the bi­lat­eral level.

“If we look at se­cu­rity is­sues, it is ev­i­dent how close our re­gions have be­come. Most crises to­day have a global im­pact,” said Tusk at the meet­ing co-chaired with Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte.

“Con­flicts in the EU’s neigh­bor­hood have an im­pact on mar­kets and so­ci­eties else­where, in­clud­ing here in South East Asia. And ten sions and rad­i­cal­iza­tion in the Asia-Pa­cific can desta­bi­lize the world well be­yond your re­gion,” he said.

Tusk also said EU and ASEAN should work to­ward a fu­ture re­gion-to-re­gion trade agree­ment that can “set a new stan­dard for global trade” while it has al­ready con­cluded the bi­lat­eral trade agree­ments be­tween the European Union and sev­eral coun­tries within ASEAN.

ASEAN, made up of 10 coun­tries in South­east Asia, com­prises more than 600 mil­lion con­sumers, com­pared to the EU’s 500 mil­lion in 28 coun­tries.

The EU is not con­sid­er­ing a free trade deal with China right now, though China has reached such deals with sev­eral de­vel­oped economies.

Duterte, who held the ASEAN’s ro­tat­ing pres­i­dency, said the meet­ing with Tusk will “pro­vide di­rec­tions to bring ASEAN-EU re­la­tions to new heights”.

Tusk has also urged to build a cred­i­ble rules-based international or­der, which he says is vi­tal for ASEAN and EU, when talk­ing about trade, re­gional se­cu­rity or is­sues like cli­mate change.

Shada Is­lam, di­rec­tor of European pol­icy of Friends of Europe, a think tank in Brus­sels said many Asian coun­tries are still re­flect­ing on the EU’s re­quest.

“Given the un­cer­tain global cli­mate and Europe’s com­mit­ment to a rules-based and open global or­der, ASEAN would be wise to make the in­vi­ta­tion to the EU a per­ma­nent one,” Is­lam said.

“For its part, Europe should use the op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther its in­creas­ingly strong case for an en­hanced se­cu­rity con­ver­sa­tion with Asia.”

Tusk’s speech came af­ter the EU this week agreed to move to­ward closer de­fense ties with more than 20 states sign­ing a land­mark pact that aims to boost co­op­er­a­tion af­ter Brexit.

Sim­i­lar ef­forts to deepen mil­i­tary links have been frus­trated for decades, partly by Bri­tain’s fierce op­po­si­tion to any­thing that might lead to a European army.

It is ev­i­dent how close our re­gions have be­come. Most crises to­day have a global im­pact.” Don­ald Tusk, European Coun­cil Pres­i­dent

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