Press Releases EU-ASEAN: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell ahead of the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit

EU-ASEAN: Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell ahead of the EU-ASEAN Commemorative Summit

Good morning,

Today is a celebration day. 45 years of diplomatic relations with ASEAN.

I am going to sign, on behalf of the European Union, two Partnership and Cooperation Agreements with Thailand and Malaysia. [These are] important steps in increasing our cooperation with ASEAN countries.

The importance of ASEAN needs to be enhanced. We are the biggest cooperation partner on development. We are the second investor in the region, and the third partner with the region.

This region is a vibrant economy. It will be growing and growing in the next years. Now, right now, one third of all trade maritime trade in the world by volume goes through the South China Sea. So, for us, it is [an] aorta vein. [It is very] important that these navigation [routes] remain free and secure.

We are going to talk about security, also. Security has two sides: Ukraine, on one side, and mainly, the South China Sea, which means the tensions with China.

So, it is going to be an important meeting. 45 years of diplomatic relations, and an important future in front of us for our cooperation.


Q. How do you want to make sure that the EU is not going to be overtaken in the ASEAN region by other economic actors, such as the USA and China?

Engaging more. If you do not want to be overtaken by others, you have to engage more, to invest more, to partner more, to trade more, [and] to take very much into consideration their concerns. And these two Partnership and Cooperation Agreements [with Malaysia and Thailand] that I am going to sign are good examples of this strong engagement. There is a battle of offers, today, in the geopolitical arena – not only a battle of narratives, but a battle of offers. We have to offer more.

Q. Are you going to keep the same relations with Qatar if Qatar tries to bribe politicians here?

Qatar is not going to be present today, in this meeting.

Q. I understand there was supposed to be a part about Taiwan in this Declaration. The EU would have liked that, but it was dropped amid disagreements. Are you disappointed by this?

Well, the Declaration is not yet finished. [It is] still being discussed. On many issues, there is still not yet a final agreement. Let’s see which is the final wording of the Declaration.

Q. The EU will pledge €10 billion to finance projects in Southeast Asia, but that is just 1% of what needed by 2027, according to the ADB. Is the Global Gateway delivering as it should be?

The Global Gateway is underway. It is a work in [progress]. This Sunday, we had the Board of the Global Gateway. It is the way of putting together our efforts – Member States, financial institutions and European institutions. Yes, there is €10 billion. Certainly, it is not enough – much more is needed. But it is important that we show what do we do, presenting a united front. 27 Member States plus the European Institutions, plus the financial institutions. You know, our [European] Investment Bank is bigger than the World Bank. And in Europe, we have to put together everything. The foreign policy of the European Union requires one thing: more unity and presenting all of us a unity. We are not a political institution like the United States, a political unity like the United States, but we can do much more by putting our efforts together. This is what Global Gateway is about.

Q. President [of the European Parliament, Roberta] Metsola said that she expects more to come with this corruption scandal. Are you afraid too that there might come more?

On this issue, there is the judiciary and there is the police. [There are] a lot of rumors, but the important thing is not the rumors. The important thing is facts. Let the judiciary work. We are in a rule of law system. We have an independent judiciary. We have the police working at the service of the investigation. So, the best thing we can do is to let the judiciary work. Certainly, we condemn corruption everywhere – even at home. But stop spreading rumors. Let’s go to the facts. Let the judiciary and the police work.

Q. Iran’s government executed people who were demonstrating for freedom. What do you say about that?

We had the Foreign Affairs Ministers [Council meeting] on Monday and we approved strong sanctions against Iran [in response to] the human rights issues and, in particular, for the execution of these two demonstrators. Since Monday, there is nothing new for us.

Thank you.

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