Thursday, June 13, 2024

Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2023 and ASEAN – EU Cooperation

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By H.E. Mr. Andri Hadi, Ambassador of Indonesia to the EU, Embassy to Belgium and Luxembourg

The competition for power was indeed one of the raison d’etre of the establishment of ASEAN in which our founding fathers foresaw during the Cold War era. Therefore, the concept of geopolitical rivalries in the region is not something new, in which currently is predominantly portrayed by the US and China, especially in the South China Sea and in the Taiwan Strait. While ASEAN continues to aspire to be the driving force in the region, the geopolitical rivalries between the two superpowers present a challenge for ASEAN to maintain its unity and centrality.

The global economy is entering a pronounced slowdown amid the threat of the COVID-19 variants and rising inflation, debt, and income inequality that could jeopardize the recovery in developing countries. This situation is further exacerbated by food and energy insecurity due to the war in Ukraine. The conflict has affected food production and global supply chains. In addition, the conflict has negatively affected the world energy supply chain, especially in Europe.

Amid the regional and global challenges mentioned above, Indonesia took over the ASEAN chairmanship in 2023 from Cambodia. Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2023 theme is ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth. The theme reflects Indonesia and ASEAN’s vision to address the current regional and global challenges.

Under the theme ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth, Indonesia put forward three priorities for its Chairmanship in ASEAN 2023, namely: ASEAN Matters, Epicentrum of Growth, and Implementation of ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

The term “ASEAN Matters” refers to Indonesia’s vision to establish an ASEAN that maintains its relevance internally to its peoples and externally to the Indo-Pacific Region and the world. Epicentrum of growth means that ASEAN must always be the fulcrum of economic growth that is inclusive, resilient, and sustainable. The 4 cooperation priorities, are i) Strengthening ASEAN health architecture; ii) strengthening food security; iii) ensuring energy security to support the transition from fossil energy to clean and renewable energy; iv) strengthening financial stability.

Last but not least is the implementation of AOIP. Indonesia will identify a list of concrete projects for the implementation of AOIP that will include all ASEAN partners. Indonesia will convene several flagship events under the ASEAN-Indo-Pacific Forum to implement AOIP. One flagship event is the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Infrastructure Forum toward the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AIPIF) to be held on 6 September 2023. Our chairmanship will also strengthen ASEAN relations with the Pacific.

ASEAN-EU cooperation would play a significant role among these three priorities, as long as it is based on the principle of equal partnership and respect. We must shift away from the assumption that “my standard is better than yours” as highlighted by President Joko Widodo during his opening remarks on The ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit held in Brussels on 14 December 2022.

The issuance of the EU’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, The Strategic Compass, and the Global Gateway, clearly indicate that the EU has a strong interest in increasing its presence and cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Ultimately, there is a growing need for ASEAN and the EU to work together to ensure that the spirit of enduring collaboration in the region will prevail, not competition.

Under the framework of Global Gateway, for example, the President of the European Commission has announced 10 Billion Euro investment package until 2027 at the ASEAN-EU Commemorative Summit 2022, which will include green and digital transition sectors. There is also a commitment from the EU to provide 30 million Euro initial funding under the framework of ASEAN – Green Team Europe Initiative.

For further information 

Mission of Indonesia to the EU, Embassy to Belgium and Luxembourg: https://kemlu.go.id/brussels/en/pages/rbi/4191/etc-menu

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Photography by Mission of Indonesia to the EU 

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