About the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe. Presently it comprises 53 partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat. ASEM addresses political, economic, social, cultural, and educational issues of common interest, in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership.
The initial ASEM partnership in 1996 consisted of 15 EU member states and 7 ASEAN member states plus China, Japan, Korea and the European Commission.
The ASEM Summit is a biennial meeting between the Heads of State and Government, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
ASEM saw the first enlargement in 2004 during the 5th ASEM Summit (ASEM5) in Hanoi (Viet Nam), where the 10 new EU Member States (Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia) and 3 new ASEAN countries (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar) became officially part of the ASEM process.
The second round of enlargement in 2008 during the 7th ASEM Summit (ASEM7) in Beijing (China) brought in 6 new members: Bulgaria, India, Mongolia, Pakistan, Romania, and the ASEAN Secretariat, increasing total ASEM membership to 45 partners.
In October 2010, the 8th ASEM Summit (ASEM8) of Heads of Government and State in Brussels (Belgium) welcomed 3 new partners to the ASEM process (Australia, New Zealand, and Russia). This third round of enlargement increased the ASEM partnership to 48 partners.
In November 2012, during the 9th ASEM Summit (ASEM9) of Heads of Government and State in Vientiane (Lao PDR), Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland officially joined. This round of enlargement brought the ASEM partnership to 51 partners.
The latest round of enlargement during the 10th ASEM Summit (ASEM10) in October 2014 in Milan (Italy) welcomed Croatia to the European side, and Kazakhstan to the Asian side. This brings the ASEM partnership to 53 partners.
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental forum for dialogue and cooperation which fosters political dialogue, reinforces economic cooperation, and promotes collaboration in other areas of mutual interest.
As an informal process of dialogue and cooperation, based on equal partnership and enhancing mutual understanding, ASEM can best work to facilitate and stimulate progress in other fora, and should not seek to duplicate what is being done within bilateral and other multilateral relationships with Asia.
Key characteristics of the ASEM process include:
It provides a open forum for policy makers and officials to discuss any political, economic and socio-cultural issues of common interest. In this way, it complements rather than duplicates the work already being carried out in bilateral and other multilateral fora.
It covers the full spectrum of relations between the two regions and devotes equal weight to political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions.
Emphasis on equal partnership:
It eschews any "aid-based" relationship taken forward under our bilateral relations in favour of a more general process of dialogue and co-operation based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
Dual focus on high-level and people-to-people:
It provides a platform for meeting of heads of states or governments, ministers and senior officials, and with an increasing focus on fostering contacts between societies in all sectors in the two regions.