The Evolving EU-ASEAN Relations in the Age of Uncertainty

Dr. Frederick Kliem
21 November 2019

ASEAN-EU relations bring together two of the most advanced regional organisations. One supposedly supranational, the other strictly intergovernmental – both have ambitious strategies for mutual engagement. However, beyond official narrative, not much has been achieved, with the EU presence less visible than its rhetoric suggests. Economically, despite being home to some of the largest trading partners and investors to Southeast Asia, the EU has failed to produce an inter-regional free-trade agreement. Similarly, in the security domain, despite its desire to play a more active role in the ASEAN region especially in maritime security, the EU has thus far made little headway. For years, it has been lobbying hard for a seat at the East Asia Summit and an observer status at ADMM-Plus. Yet, Brussels’ tangible value-adding to the ASEAN-led institution remains unclear. Can the EU make a difference in the political-security realm? Does ASEAN want Brussels to play a direct role in an already complex web of actors? The seminar will address these questions by exploring the EU’s interests and policies in Southeast Asia, taking stock of its achievements, and examining Southeast Asian perspectives on these issues.

About the Speaker: Dr. Frederick Kliem is a Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. At the Centre for Multilateralism Studies (CMS), he studies ASEAN, Southeast Asia, geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific, the European Union as well as comparative regionalism. Before joining RSIS, Frederick was Senior Programme Manager at the renowned German political foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, for which he was based at their Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia in Singapore and in charge of their ASEAN as well as Geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific portfolios. In addition, Frederick is freelance Consultant and Key Expert on ASEAN matters to the European External Action Service in Brussels. He has published significantly and accumulated a long list of conference and workshop presentations. Frederick has been a keen observer of the region for over a decade, becoming one of the few European experts on Southeast Asia and ASEAN.

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