Shada Islam gives us a useful summing up of where EU-Asia relations are headed, and offers some proposals on how to go further:
Not yet a “pivot” – but EU-Asia relations get more active and intense
Shada strikes a sober tone –
“Developing a truly European strategy for sustained engagement with Asia, however, will require more than a few discussions, visits and communiques. EU policymakers need to undertake a more in-depth reflection of Europe’s many interests, significant strengths and weaknesses in dealing with a more self-confident Asia. Yes, there is a marked improvement in EU-Asia engagement-and this should be celebrated. But much still remains to be done.”
Indeed. For all the talk of ‘strategic’ this and ‘comprehensive’ that in this article and in the official documents, most of the EU action is still about trade and investment. So-called ‘non-traditional’ security may play to EU strengths, but I can’t help wondering – how much interest can it excite from Asian nations with increasingly serious ‘traditional’ security worries?
This reminded me of another article on ‘friends of Europe‘ by former EU Commissioner Anna Diamantopoulou, who takes quite a different view –
‘…in order to restart, Europe needs decisions and leaders, and in reference to Europe’s international influence, this means engaging simultaneously in a soft, smart and also hard power game.”