The 12th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers' Meeting (ASEM), entitled "Working together for a sustainable and secure future", was held in Luxembourg on 5 and 6 November 2015.
The aim of this meeting is to review the commitments made during the Milan Summit in October 2014 and prepare for the 20th anniversary of ASEM, which will be celebrated at the next ASEM Summit in Mongolia in July 2016.
On 5 November, the items on the agenda for the first session are climate change, the Sustainable Development Programme for 2030 and the management and reduction of disaster risks; the second session focuses on connectivity and the future of ASEM. On 6 November, during a discussion session, the Ministers discuss international and regional affairs.
Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, stressed the need to strengthen cooperation between Europe and Asia in order to tackle common global challenges.
To shape political, economic and social development in Europe and Asia in the spirit of mutually beneficial cooperation
In his opening speech, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg highlighted the fact that, today, Asia and Europe are "key players in global geopolitics". "ASEM has 53 partners; 11 of them are G-20 members. Together, our two continents bring together about half of the world's GDP, about 60 % of its population and almost 60 % of its trade. These figures speak for themselves", he declared.
From his perspective, one of ASEM's major challenges over the coming decade will be to "shape political, economic and social development in Europe and Asia in the spirit of mutually beneficial cooperation". In his view, this development should be based on "sustainable economies" and should contribute to "strengthening new ‘silk routes’ and connectivity between Europe and Asia".
Federica Mogherini stressed the need for a common approach to tackling global challenges
Federica Mogherini highlighted the need for a common approach between the EU and Asia in order to tackle global challenges. She explained that the subjects on the agenda of the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting, in particular climate change, sustainable development goals and natural disaster management, were of interest both for Asia and Europe. "We must and should highlight our commitment to a successful COP 21 in Paris", she underlined, in reference to climate change.
Welcoming the fact that the European and Asian continents were " increasingly interconnected", she underlined the importance of strengthening connectivity between the two continents through "the construction of networks and infrastructure for better connection between Europe and Asia and within our regions.
Finally, Federica Mogherini praised the fact that Europe and Asia have learned to cooperate on all matters, including "the most difficult ones", for example, migration, counter-terrorism, trade and shared values between the EU and Asia. "Although, in most cases, we do not share the same borders, we share the same concerns about the problems related to the current crises", she declared, in reference to Syria, Libya, and the global threat of terrorism and radicalisation.
Jean Asselborn calls for strengthening ASEM's economic pillar
In his opening speech, Jean Asselborn explained that, since the last ASEM meeting in Milan, Asia and Europe have had to face "new challenges that jeopardise the foundation of our international system". Whether it is in the field of terrorism, migration, human trafficking or instability in the Middle East, he takes the view that these crises require global responses.
He explained that 2015 was "a pivotal year for our planet and our people", referring to the adoption of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September in New York, and the challenges in relation to the Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) in December.
For the Minister, Europe-Asia dialogue "has proven its worth" over the past 19 years by welcoming new partners, "adapting to new challenges" and "opening up to subjects of mutual interest", such as nuclear safety, tourism, human rights, logistical transport networks, intercultural dialogue, connectivity and youth employment. Indeed, this last subject was the theme of the 1st Young Leaders Summit, organised by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), which brought together about 120 young people in Luxembourg in order to discuss youth employment and entrepreneurship.
In his view, since its creation in 1996, ASEM has been a "key platform" for political dialogue, economic cooperation and cultural and social exchanges between Europe and Asia and "a forum which contributes to greater understanding in order to tackle global and regional challenges and promote peace, prosperity and sustainable development for all". "But ASEM must also strengthen its economic pillar", he added, pointing out that connectivity, in all its aspects, could make this a reality.