TEMPO.CO, Jakarta-The European Union (EU) is poised to step up cooperation with Southeast Asian nations, considering their strategic positions in global economy as well as successful agreements between the bloc and the ASEAN since 2014.
The European Union Ambassador to ASEAN Francisco Fontan said ASEAN member states have been developing rapidly in the past few years. The bloc has also been contributing positively to the European Union. He has vowed to step up the cooperation in the future.
“We have a committment to improve funding and cooperation in a wide range of sectors to support ASEAN, particularly after the agenda of ASEAN regional integration was set in 2015,” he said Tuesday, September 14, 2016, as quoted by Bisnis.com.
The funds from the European Union for ASEAN development cooperation programs have been given since 2014.
The European Union is committed to keep chanelling funds up to 196 million euros until 2020. The amount, Fontan went on, excludes bilateral cooperations between the European Union with the respective ASEAN member states in the form of grants, which have reached 2 million euros.
The EU is the world’s biggest donor in 2015 with a contribution of 86 billion euros. It was equal to half of the total amount of the Official Development Assistance (ODA).
The commitment to step up cooperation is, among others, based on the success of EU-funded programs. The EU has successfully implemented programs in various sectors, namely in politics, education, disaster mitigation, climate change mitigation and agriculture.
As for the economic sector, the cooperation includes improvement in trade and production standards, transport procedures, customs and excise, statistics and grants for agriculture sector, particularly traditional farmers. The success stories are summarised in the EU-ASEAN Blue Book 2016.
Moreover, the European Union and ASEAN have managed to roll out the ASEAN Trade Repository (ATR) throughout 2015. The program include improved transparency and trade standards of the respective countries as well as legal certainty, regulations and government policies.
“Investors’ trust has improved as the government’s transparency in trade gets better due to the program,” said Executive Director, EU-ASEAN Business Council, Chris Humphrey.
The European Union and ASEAN have also successfully implemented the ASEAN Air Transport Integration Project (AATIP) launched in 2012 with a budget of 4.7 million euros, in which the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) serves as the implementing body. The project is aimed at developing ASEAN’s aviation industry system and equipment based on international standards and regulations.