Phnom Penh, 29 November 2021 (TDI): The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting took place via video conference from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 25-26 November 2021.
Heads of states or governments of 30 European States and 20 Asian Partners attended the Summit, entitled “Strengthening Multilateralism to Shared Growth”. It also included the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the European Union. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia, presided over the meeting.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, represented the EU. Janez Jansa represented the rotating EU Council presidency, who is the Prime Minister of Slovenia. Moreover, Josep Borrell, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, likewise took part in the meeting.
This year’s summit was one of the most important multilateral meetings of 2021. We discussed how to boost the post-pandemic socio-economic recovery, ensure a green transformation, and reinforce cooperation on foreign and security policies.
— President Charles Michel, following the ASEM13 summit
Leaders celebrated the ASEM’s 25th anniversary. They were proud of ASEM’s achievements since 1996 and pledged that they would continue to enhance cooperation, partnership, and connectivity between Asia and Europe.
Post COVID-19 socio-economic recovery
Leaders shared their views about the current political and socio-economic situation in their countries as well as the global context. They also held discussions to deliberate ways to enhance ASEM collaboration.
Whereas, discussions involved the surveillance of citizens’ health, socio-economic prosperity, and reconstructing their economies sustainably for a stronger future.
Multilateral cooperation, and a strong Europe-Asia relationship in particular, is crucial for our global recovery… We believe it is important for all ASEM partners to work together to “build back better”- in a more green, digital, sustainable, and inclusive way.
— Charles Michel, President of the European Council
Leaders spoke out about the disproportionality effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities, especially for women, girls, families, and people living in vulnerable conditions.
Furthermore, they stressed the importance of having equal access to high-quality, cost-effective, safe, and adequate diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines for all nations in order to comply with the COVID-19 response.
Leaders also highlighted the opportunity that global response to the pandemic presented for the acceleration of the transitions towards resilient, digital, low-carbon socio-economic recovery, as well as toward green, circular, and more sustainable economies.
They knew the importance of maintaining global supply chains and markets open, stable, and accessible. And also reiterated the Paris Agreement goals as well as welcomed the outcome of the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26).
They also highlighted the concern of upholding the international order built on rules and principles in international law with the United Nations at its center, in order for regional and global challenges to be addressed.
Global and regional challenges
Leaders emphasized the importance of building confidence and preventive diplomacy to achieve peace and stability.
They talked about specific topics such as the efforts at denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding Iran, the crisis in Myanmar, and the situation in Afghanistan.
Michel underlined the importance of the Indo-Pacific Region and manifested its importance in the EU’s strategy for partnership with the region.
We are already a top investor in this region. And we are also a top development cooperation and trading partner in this region. “We have decided to reinforce our strategic focus, presence, and actions with the region. Our new EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific sends a strong political signal.
— President Charles Michel following the ASEM13 summit
Leaders agreed that only sustainable connectivity can make regional economic integration possible. They also adopted a statement on ASEM Connectivity. This statement cites a range of recommendations that members may adopt voluntarily. They hold information sharing and meeting organization as well as promotion of ASEM connection through the ASEM InfoBoard.
Leaders also stressed the need to strengthen cultural, social, and political links between Europe and Asia. These include youth who take part in political processes, volunteering, and economic sectors such as sustainable tourism or creative economy.
What is ASEM?
The Asia-Europe Meeting, founded in 1996, facilitates dialogue and cooperation among Asia-Europe. It includes 53 members; 21 Asian and 30 European countries, including the EU and the ASEAN Secretariat, and is the largest gathering of global leaders outside the UN General Assembly. ASEM comprises 27 EU member states, Norway, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.
Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) and Centre for Fine Arts-Brussels (BOZAR) joined forces to host the ASEM Day Virtual Celebration at the EU’s headquarters on 7th March 2021. They held it in commemoration of ASEM’s 25th anniversary.