Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

What is ASEM?

The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is a process of dialogue and cooperation involving 21 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat along with the 28 European Union member states, Norway and Switzerland and the European Union. ASEM links Asia and Europe by facilitating discussion on political, economic and cultural relations.

ASEM was conceived by Singapore and France in 1994. The first Summit was held in Bangkok in March 1996. The process was created to connect Asia and Europe and help raise awareness between the two regions, coordinate multilateral policies where possible, generate initiatives, open up opportunities for trade and investment and promote the development of civil society networks. Information on ASEM activities can be obtained from the ASEM website.

Initially consisting of the 15 EU member states, 10 ASEAN member states, plus China, Japan, Korea, and the European Commission, ASEM has gradually broadened its membership and today includes a total of 53 partners.

Australia and ASEM

Australia formally joined ASEM at the 8th ASEM Summit in Brussels in October 2010, attended by former Prime Minister Gillard. Since then Australia has been represented at each ASEM Summit and Foreign Ministers' Meeting.

The 12th ASEM Summit was held in Brussels in October 2018. Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, represented the Prime Minister at the Summit. The theme of the summit was Global Partners for Global Challenges, with discussions covering ASEM's three pillars: political and security; economic and financial; and social and cultural. The agenda focused on the rules-based international order, trade liberalisation and multilateralism. Security issues for discussion included North Korea, Iran, maritime security, counter-terrorism, and cyber security. The ASEM agenda also provided a focus on promoting gender equality.

Chair's Statement from the 12th Asia Europe Meeting Summit [PDF 113 KB]

The next ASEM Summit will take place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in 2020.

The 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers' meeting is scheduled for Madrid in 2019.

The 13th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar in November 2017.

Chair's Statement from the 13th Asia Europe Meeting Foreign Ministers Meeting [PDF 374 KB]

Participation in ASEM enables Australia to coordinate responses to global challenges and strengthen our engagement and integration with ASEM partners. It also allows Australia to play a role in broadening links and fostering a more comprehensive partnership between Asia and Europe.

Last Updated: 16 January 2019


Asia Europe Foundation

Australia is also a member of the Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) – an institution established by ASEM with headquarters in Singapore. ASEF promotes greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Through ASEF, civil society concerns are included as a vital component of deliberations of ASEM. ASEF runs more than 25 projects a year, bringing together over 3000 participants annually and reaching out to a wide audience in Asia and Europe.

ASEF projects cover seven broad themes: environment, arts and culture, human rights and governance, economy, public health, education and intercommunal dialogue. Activities take the form of conferences, lecture tours, workshops, seminars, web-based platforms and book, CD and DVD publications. ASEF activities involve collaboration from a broad range of organisations and individuals across the ASEM membership.

Australian individuals and organisations with an interest in learning more about ASEF activities can obtain more information from the ASEF website.