fostering dialogue & cooperation between Asia & Europe


The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an intergovernmental process established in 1996 to foster dialogue and cooperation between Asia and Europe.

ASEM addresses political, economic, financial, social, cultural, and educational issues of common interest in a spirit of mutual respect and equal partnership. Its foremost event, 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 ASEAN. In addition, ASEM Ministers & Senior Officials also meet in their respective sectoral dialogues.

The initial ASEM Partnership in 1996 consisted of 15 EU Member States, 7 ASEAN Member States, China, Japan, Korea and the European Commission. Today, ASEM comprises 53 Partners: 30 European and 21 Asian countries, the European Union and the ASEAN Secretariat.

Through its informal process based on equal partnership and enhancing mutual understanding, ASEM facilitates and stimulates progress but does not seek to duplicate bilateral and other multilateral relationships between Asia and Europe.

An open forum for policy makers and officials to discuss political, economic and socio-cultural issues of common interest, complementing the work carried out in bilateral and other multilateral fora

Covering the full spectrum of relations between the two regions and devotes equal weight to political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions

Equal Partnership
Eschewing any "aid-based" relationship taken forward under bilateral relations in favour of a more general process of dialogue and co-operation based on mutual respect and mutual benefit

High-Level & People-to-People
A platform for meetings of Heads of States and Governments, Ministers and Senior Officials, as well as an increasing focus on fostering engagements in all sectors in the two regions

Enhancing Asia-Europe Relations
Overall, ASEM has increased global perception of the two regions. It complements existing relations between the countries and peoples of Asia and Europe. ASEM provides a new layer of dialogue and cooperation on international and inter-regional issues of common interest. Successful exchanges have included matters relating to the United Nations, WTO, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, migration, climate change, and globalisation. ASEM partners can also develop and test new ideas for future policy-making. For instance, it facilitates transfer of technology to Asian countries. Conversely, European partners can gain a better understanding of Asia’s regional developments through shared knowledge on specific issues. This feature has grown in importance in an enlarged ASEM, especially for trans-national and security issues.

Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
To complement the ASEM Process, the 1st ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMFMM1) in February 1997 welcomed the establishment the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). Based in Singapore, ASEF provides opportunities for Asians and Europeans to exchange ideas and collaborate, to achieve innovative and substantive solutions for common global challenges. ASEF organises projects and seminars across a broad spectrum, dealing with culture, education, sustainable development, economy, governance, public health and media, with contribution from civil society and others. Learn more

1st ASEM Summit Group Photo, 1996, Bangkok, Thailand
1st ASEM Summit Group Photo, 1996, Bangkok, Thailand

Origins of ASEM

The ASEM Process arose from a mutual recognition in both Asia and Europe that the relationship between the two regions needed to be strengthened. In July 1994, the European Commission published Towards a New Strategy for Asia, stressing the importance of modernising its relationship with Asia. In September 1994 in Singapore, and subsequently at Davos in early 1995, Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong put forward the vision that the time had come for the European Union and East Asia to forge closer ties to complement their strong ties with the United States. In November 1994, Singapore and France proposed at the EU-Asia summit meeting to be held, to consider how to build a new partnership between the two regions. Following Singapore’s proposal, the 1st ASEM Summit (ASEM1) was held on 1-2 March 1996 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Funded by the European Union