European Union invited as guest to East Asia Summit

European Union invited as guest to East Asia Summit


Melanie Ullrich, Business and Policy Programme Manager

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has invited Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, to attend the 12th East Asia Summit (EAS) as a guest of the ASEAN chair.

The invitation to Donald Tusk marks a significant shift in the EU-ASEAN relations. ASEAN and the European Union will issue a joint statement on the state of climate, a “big slap in Mr Trump’s face”, according to Kavi Chongkittavorn, commentator for the Bangkok Post.

ASEAN-EU relations mark their 40th year in 2017. Relations have been rocky due to conflicts over values and norms: For over two decades, Myanmar’s political development was the key barrier to ASEAN-EU progress. But with the democratisation process taking root in Myanmar, Brussels has adjusted its overall policy to ensure that the EU can play an appropriate role in shaping overall developments.
The rapid withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris Accord on Climate Change shattered the credibility of the US and allowed the EU to step in. Currently ASEAN has seven strategic partners, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and the US. The EU, Canada and Russia are on top of the list of those that may join them.