The Council welcomes the outcome of the EU-ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Brussels on 19 October 2018. The European Union has a genuine strategic interest in strengthening its relationship with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The Council is determined to deepen relations in 2019 and underlines its support for ASEAN regional integration.

The Council looks forward to the upgrading of EU-ASEAN relations to a strategic partnership when mutually agreed. The EU and ASEAN are bound together by common interests in strengthening the rules-based international order and in effective multilateralism. The Council underlines the importance of promoting closer trade and investment links with ASEAN. Recalling its commitment to enhanced security cooperation in and with Asia, it also reiterates its offer to contribute substantially to policy and security/defence related fora led by ASEAN, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus. It is determined to advance mutually beneficial cooperation on connectivity in line with the EU strategy on connecting Europe and Asia. Both the EU and ASEAN must work together to move the relationship to the strategic level with a view to promoting our strong common interests.

The Council therefore looks forward to a successful EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting today with an ambitious agenda, including the strengthening of our mutual relations, promoting EU-ASEAN connectivity, enhancing political and security cooperation, addressing climate change and the environment, the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a constructive discussion of key challenges facing Europe, South-east Asia and the world.