With similar regional aims and objectives, the EU and ASEAN are atural partners. Dialogue relations between the two groupings date back to 1977 when the 10th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting agreed on the need for a formal relationship. This wasinstitutionalised with the signature of the 1980 ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement. The relationship has grown rapidly since then; and expanded to cover a range of areas including political and security, economic and trade, social and cultural, and development co-operation. Today, EU-ASEAN relations are guided by the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership, adopted in 2007.
In the last few years, the relationship has deepened and intensified. In April 2012, the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN and the EU adopted in Brunei the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action (2013-2017) with a rich agenda of 90 Action Points for the next five years covering the three pillars of ASEAN Community (Political-Security, Economic-Trade and Socio-Cultural).
In July 2012, the EU acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, ASEAN’s core instrument for ensuring peace and stability in the region. With the accession of the EU, with its 28 Member States to date, 55 countries now adhere to the TAC.
As another regional integration organisation, the EU has unrivalled experience in terms of economic integration, the establishment of a Single Market and the removal of technical, legal and administrative barriers to trade. It has preferential trade arrangements in place with a number of ASEAN Member States; it is engaged in Partnership and Cooperation Agreements or negotiations with ASEAN Member States and in Free Trade negotiations with individual ASEAN Member States. The latter are meant as stepping stones for an overall EU-ASEAN (i.e., region-to-region) Free Trade Agreement, once the ASEAN Economic Community takes on a more concrete form after 2015.