Written Answers. - ASEM Priorities.

Paul McGrath

Question:

60 Mr. P. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the priorities being set for ASEM; and the progress made to date in implementing these priorities. [15024/02]

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) founded in 1996, brings together the 15 EU member states and the Commission and ten Asian countries – Brunei-Darussalam, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam – in an unique, informal process of dialogue aimed at enhancing co-operation between the two regions. It began in April 1996 with a Summit of Heads of State and Government in Bangkok. The process is in addition to the ongoing dialogue between the EU and the Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN) but has the added importance of participation by China, Japan and Korea.

The dialogue focuses on political, economic and social and cultural issues and is carried out through summit, ministerial, expert and civil society level meetings. Because of the nature of the process, with its emphasis on informality, priorities are discussed and built upon from meeting to meeting. Recent meetings include the ASEM Foreign Ministers in June this year, the Ministerial Conference on Co-operation on the Management of Migratory Flows between Europe and Asia, in April, and an ad hoc meeting of Ministers of the Environment in Beijing, last January. Participants in all of these meetings engaged in active and constructive discussion which has led to better understanding, a deepening of the relationship and improved co-operation on issues of mutual interest.

The next ASEM Summit will take place in Copenhagen in September and the Taoiseach hopes to attend. While the agenda has not yet been finalised, I can say that the summit will consider current international political developments, including the international security situation. It will consider the economic and financial priorities based on input from meetings of ASEM Finance and Economic Ministers which will take place this July and September. Finally, the summit leaders will look at human resource development including lifelong learning. The ASEM Foreign Ministers meeting earlier this month endorsed three proposals which will be discussed as key ASEM initiatives for the summit: an ASEM seminar on anti-terrorism, a workshop on the future of employment and the quality of labour, which Ireland has co-sponsored, and a conference on cultures and civilisations.