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.

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.

A Growing ASEM