GIGA Focus International Edition English

ASEAN–EU Relations: From Regional Integration Assistance to Security Significance?

Number 3 | 2013 | ISSN: 2196-3940

  • The Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held their annual summit from 17 to 18 November 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.


    European Union (EU) decision-makers have paid relatively little attention to the ASEAN region despite entering into a series of important agreements with ASEAN as a whole and with individual ASEAN member states: In July 2012 the EU entered into the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), an important regulatory framework for the region. In October 2012, it finished negotiating a partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) with Vietnam, and in December of the same year, it signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore. But despite these milestones, the EU generally has played a minor role in the region. To participate in Southeast Asia’s economic dynamism, the EU must make clear its importance to the region – above and beyond trade.

    • The ASEAN Charter of 2007 brought ASEAN’s institutional structures more in line with the EU. One important reform included making human rights protection one of ASEAN’s goals.

    • Myanmar’s political opening also provides the EU with new room to promote farreaching regional initiatives that could beef up ASEAN–EU relations.

    • The EU’s role as a security actor in Southeast Asia remains marginal, as shown by ASEAN’s rejection of its bid to join the East Asia Summit (EAS). Whether the EU’s accession efforts will one day succeed depends on how regional actors rate its contribution to major security issues.


      How to cite this article

      Jetschke, Anja, and Clara Portela (2013), ASEAN–EU Relations: From Regional Integration Assistance to Security Significance?, GIGA Focus International Edition English, 3, Hamburg: German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA),


      The GIGA Focus is an Open Access publication and can be read on the Internet and downloaded free of charge at According to the conditions of the Creative-Commons license Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0, this publication may be freely duplicated, circulated, and made accessible to the public. The particular conditions include the correct indication of the initial publication as GIGA Focus and no changes in or abbreviation of texts.

      The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

      Prof. Dr. Anja Jetschke

      Prof. Dr. Anja Jetschke

      Former Associate

      Ass. Prof. Dr. Clara Portela

      Ass. Prof. Dr. Clara Portela

      European Union Institute For Security Studies

      GIGA Focus Global | 11/2012

      Die Außenhandelskooperation der USA mit Asien

      Dr. Nicola Nymalm

      Former Associate

      Elmira Schaltuganow

      University of Trier

      West European Politics | 2012

      Diffusing Regional Integration: The EU and Southeast Asia

      Prof. Dr. Anja Jetschke

      Former Associate

      Philomena Murray


      Sign up to receive email notifications about GIGA activities

      Social Media

      Follow us