Category Archives: Relations with third countries

Eastern europe and central asia
Mediterranean partner countries
Middle east
Latin america
Industrialised countries
European External Action Service
International agreements

Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh

Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Strategy for cooperation with Bangladesh (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

The European Commission – Bangladesh Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .


Following the adoption of a new partnership agreement in 2001, the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh are cooperating in many areas. Primarily, EU intervention should support the country in reducing poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

All cooperation projects must incorporate the objectives of protecting gender equality, rural development, food safety, environmental protection and good public governance.

Short-term priorities

This strategy aims at establishing a balance between social development and economic development. The partners therefore identify priority areas for action:

  • human and social development, through programmes to promote health, nutrition, access to education, decent work and the fight against poverty;
  • good governance, particularly as regards the management of public finances, the judicial system and the effectiveness of the State;
  • the protection of human rights, mainly to improve respect for the rights of women and children, but also of minority groups such as refugees and the disabled;
  • economic and trade development, to enable the country to be integrated into the global trade system, to increase the competitiveness of enterprises and the diversification of economic production.

Long-term priorities

During the second phase of implementation of the strategy, a series of actions are to be carried out in the areas of:

  • the environment and disaster management, the consequences of which mainly affect the poorest people;
  • food security and nutrition, so as to permanently reduce malnutrition rates, particularly in rural areas.

Agreement with Bangladesh on partnership and development

Agreement with Bangladesh on partnership and development

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Agreement with Bangladesh on partnership and development


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Agreement with Bangladesh on partnership and development

Document or Iniciative

Council Decision 2001/332/EC of 26 February 2001 concerning the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on partnership and development.

Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on partnership and development.


The cooperation put in place between the European Union (EU) and Bangladesh should contribute to the sustainable development of the country and the fight against poverty. Bangladesh is one of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Areas of cooperation

Special attention is paid by the partners to the fight against drugs and against HIV/AIDS. Their actions comprise:

  • prevention measures, monitoring and fighting AIDS;
  • information provision and educational activities;
  • improving access to health services and treatment for the sick;
  • the rehabilitation of drug addicts.

Trade cooperation aims at the expansion of trade and the opening up of markets. It takes place in compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements. The partners therefore need to make progress towards removing trade barriers and resolving transit or re-export issues. They must improve customs cooperation and information sharing.

Moreover, the country must make progress in its undertakings as regards the protection of intellectual, industrial and commercial property rights.

Economic cooperation aims particularly at:

  • facilitating contacts between economic operators, business communities, enterprises and investors;
  • improving the business environment and conditions for investment, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises;
  • promoting technology transfer.

The agreement enshrines the principle of reciprocal access by the partners to their respective public works contracts. They apply the principle of free access to international maritime transport contracts.

In the area of the environment, cooperation must make it possible in particular to:

  • reduce the risks of natural disasters, and combat soil degradation in particular;
  • develop environmental policy and workers’ training;
  • promote sustainable and non-polluting energies.

The partners share knowledge in the field of science and technology. They cooperate in combating the production of drugs and money laundering.

A key point of the partnership is the development of workers’ rights and skills. International Labour Organization (ILO) instruments are to be implemented (in the areas of child labour, forced labour, freedom of association, trade union rights, etc.). Furthermore, measures are to be taken to foster education and vocational qualifications, particularly for the poorest population sectors.

Regional cooperation

Cooperation actions may be undertaken with other countries in the region, as a priority in the fields of:

  • technical assistance and workers’ training;
  • the promotion of intra-regional trade;
  • support for regional cooperation organisations (such as the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC));
  • examining questions with a regional dimension, particularly in the sectors of transport, communications, the environment and health.

Free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea

Free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea

Document or Iniciative

Free trade agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Korea, of the other part.


Under this free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Korea, the partners will progressively eliminate duties and import quotas applying to imports and exports of industrial and agricultural products. They will also introduce progressive liberalisation of services and investment.

The main objectives of this Agreement are:

  • to eliminate duties for European exporters of industrial and agricultural products;
  • to improve market access for EU service providers;
  • to abolish non-tariff restrictions in the electronics, pharmaceuticals and medical devices sectors;
  • to improve market access for EU car manufacturers;
  • to improve access to government procurement markets;
  • to protect intellectual property rights;
  • to strengthen competition law;
  • to improve transparency;
  • to promote sustainable development;
  • to establish a rapid and effective dispute settlement system.

Elimination of tariff and non-tariff measures

The EU and Korea will progressively abolish customs duties applying to their trade in goods. This liberalisation applies to a list of goods (Annex 2-A).

In addition, the partners may not adopt any other types of import or export restrictions. However, they may provide for sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to protect human, animal or plant life or health. In accordance with the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the partners shall minimise the effects of these measures on the development of trade.

Trade in services and right of establishment

The partners undertake to liberalise part of their offer of services in accordance with the WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). They have therefore drawn up a list of commitments and limitations (Annex 7-A) concerning the liberalised service sectors.

Similarly, the Agreement defines the rules on the right of establishment for access to the market in services, and on the right of residence for professionals.

Lastly, the liberalisation of financial services may be restricted in order to protect the partners’ financial systems or to protect investors and individuals receiving these services.

Government procurement

The EU and Korea shall grant each other access to their markets in products and services, in compliance with the rules on openness, transparency and non-discrimination in the WTO’s Agreement on Government Procurement.

The rules applying to public works contracts are laid down in Annex 9 to this Agreement.

Dispute settlement

In the event of non-compliance with the provisions of the Agreement, the parties shall have recourse to extrajudicial dispute settlement mechanisms, particularly rapid arbitration and mediation procedures.

Sustainable development

The Agreement includes provisions establishing joint commitments and a framework for cooperation on trade and sustainable development and provides for dialogue and continuous commitment between the EU and South Korea in the areas of environment and employment.


This free trade agreement is the most complete and the most ambitious agreement concluded by the EU with a third country. The strategy for a Global Europe: Competing in the world (BG) (CS) (ET) (GA) (LV) (LT) (HU) (MT) (PL) (RO) (SK) (SL) envisages the development of this type of agreement in order to provide the EU with preferential access to external markets.

According to a recent study , this Agreement should make it possible to double bilateral trade over the next twenty years compared to a situation without an agreement in place.

The ASEM process

The ASEM process

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The ASEM process


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

The ASEM process (Asia-Europe meeting)

Document or Iniciative

Commission working document, of 18 April 2000: Perspectives and Priorities for the ASEM Process (Asia-Europe Meeting) into the new decade [COM(2000) 241 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


ASEM is an informal process of dialogue bringing together the Member States, the European Commission and ten Asian countries: Brunei, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.

The dialogue takes place at several levels: there are Summit-level meetings, which are attended by the Asian and European Heads of State or Government and the President of the Commission, and Ministerial-level meetings on foreign affairs, finance, the economy, the environment, or science and technology. Discussions take place under three pillars: the political pillar, the economic and financial pillar, and the cultural and intellectual pillar. The larger meetings are prepared by the group of Coordinators, made up of four representatives: the Presidency, the European Commission and two Asian countries in rotation. To date, there have been four summits: in Bangkok in 1996, in London in 1998, in Seoul in 2000 and in Copenhagen in 2002. There have been many Ministerial-level meetings in the various fields.

In this document, the Commission emphasises the informal character of the process, which it regards as one of its greatest assets, and its pluralistic dimension. The Commission considers that the main comparative advantage of the process is its ability to stimulate and facilitate work in bilateral and multilateral fora, and to promote dialogue and mutual understanding in areas where a consensus can be reached.

In 2000, the Commission was concerned that the process could run out of steam if it failed to show the public and the world of business that it was still relevant to their concerns and interests. At the same time, it stressed the importance of ASEM’s potential, and called on public opinion to support the process and encourage the participation of civil society.


In its working document, the Commission sets out general priorities for the three pillars of ASEM. Their aim is to build on the achievements of the process and deepen relations between the two regions. In the political field, and with a view to focusing on issues of common interest, the Commission proposes:

  • to intensify the high-level dialogue;
  • to strengthen networking and informal dialogue;
  • to provide for an exchange of views in the context of appropriate international institutions;
  • to support human rights, democracy and the rule of law;
  • to make joint efforts in addressing global issues that the partnership could further.

In the economic field: The aim is to strengthen the economic partnership, giving priority to dialogue at different levels: between companies, between the public and private sectors, between Finance and Economic Ministers, as well as maintaining a dialogue on more general socio-economic issues.

The intensification of the dialogue between the Economic Ministers and their Senior Officials should:

  • promote the strengthening of the WTO multilateral trade system;
  • strengthen two-way trade and investment flows;
  • establish an enhanced climate for business cooperation;
  • enhance dialogue and cooperation in key sectors for the future, such as infrastructure, transport, high-technology, services, telecommunications.

In the cultural and intellectual fields, ASEM should focus on promoting enhanced contacts and strengthened mutual awareness between the peoples of the two regions. The Commission calls for enhanced dialogue and cooperation in the fields of science and technology, the environment, social sciences, the arts and humanities, and the promotion of networking and increased contact and exchanges in the field of education. It proposes to continue to lend support to the Asia-Europe Foundation as a catalyst for cultural and intellectual dialogue between the two regions.

The Commission sets five specific priorities for the Seoul Summit:

  • an enhanced exchange of views on regional and global security issues;
  • enhanced dialogue and cooperation on trade, social policy and economic issues;
  • intensified educational exchanges;
  • cooperation in the field of consumer protection;
  • a possible broadening of participation in the ASEM process.

Related Acts

(September 2002)

The Copenhagen Summit approved the Copenhagen Declaration on Cooperation against International Terrorism and the Copenhagen Cooperation Programme on Fighting International Terrorism. The Summit also agreed that ASEM’s priorities would be closer economic cooperation, cooperation in the social, educational and environmental fields and a dialogue on cultures and civilisations. The next summit will take place in Vietnam in 2004.

Seoul Summit (October 2000)

This Summit, which is recognised as a historic milestone in the evolution of the ASEM process, approved the Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework 2000, building on the decisions taken in London. It sets a common vision for the future, as well as the aims, priorities and mechanisms to take the process into the 21st century. The partners agreed to strive for a common goal of maintaining peace and stability, and of promoting conditions conducive to sustainable economic and social development. Other ASEM initiatives were endorsed, relating to globalisation and information technology, the development of human resources, the environment, health, and transnational law enforcement matters.

In addition to coordination mechanisms, the Framework proposes that the Economy, Finance and Foreign Affairs Ministers meet regularly, at least once a year. A group of ASEM contact officials will facilitate exchanges of information.

London Summit (April 1998)

The London Summit adopted an Asia-Europe Cooperation Framework and established an Asia-Europe Vision Group to examine medium and long term perspectives for relations between the two regions. The Heads of State or Government also endorsed an action plan on trade facilitation and another on promoting investment. In response to the economic and financial crisis in Asia, they also agreed to create an ASEM Trust Fund and a European financial expertise network to overcome the effects of the crisis and avert new crises.

The process must be conducted on a basis of equal partnership, mutual respect and mutual benefits. It need not be institutionalised and should be an open and evolutionary process, managing the three pillars in parallel. The priorities set form the basis of those taken up by the Commission in 2000. The summit also refers to the need for increased cooperation in the fields of science and technology, culture, human resources, development, the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and international organised crime.

The Cooperation Framework provides that the Foreign Affairs Ministers and their Senior Officials are responsible for the overall coordination of ASEM activities. Any proposals for new activities must be beneficial to both parties, contribute to the general objectives, propose well-defined goals and actors, avoid duplicating activities and involve a sufficient number of partners.

Bangkok Summit (March 1996)

At the inaugural ASEM in Bangkok, the Heads of State or Government decided to establish an Asia-Europe Environmental Technology Centre in Bangkok. They also decided to set up an Asia-Europe Foundation with headquarters in Singapore, an Asia-Europe university programme and youth exchange programmes to strengthen cultural ties. They also agreed to conduct a study on the integration of the trans-Asian rail network and its possible integration into the trans-European network.

EEC-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement

EEC-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EEC-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

EEC-China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EEC) No 2616/85 of 16 September 1985 concerning the conclusion of a Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the People’s Republic of China.

Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the People’s Republic of China.


This Agreement replaces the trade agreement concluded between the European Economic Community (EEC) and the People’s Republic of China on 3 April 1978. It aims to introduce a new stage, to promote and intensify trade and to encourage the steady expansion of economic cooperation in the mutual interest of both parties.

Trade cooperation

Both parties confirm their determination to encourage trade, improve its structure in order to diversify it, and take the necessary measures to facilitate it.

They grant each other most-favoured nation treatment in all matters regarding:

  • customs duties and charges of all kinds (including the procedures for the collection of such duties or charges) applied to the import, export, re-export, or transit of products;
  • regulations, procedures and formalities concerning customs clearance, transit, warehousing and transhipment of products imported or exported;
  • taxes and other internal charges levied directly or indirectly on products or services imported or exported;
  • administrative formalities for the issue of import or export licences.

There are, however, exceptions. This treatment is not applied to:

  • advantages accorded by the EEC or China to:

– states with which they share membership of a customs union or free trade area;

– neighbouring countries for the purpose of facilitating border trade;

  • measures which the EEC or China may take in order to meet their obligations under international commodity agreements.

The Agreement also aims to achieve a balance in trade; it therefore provides for any obvious imbalance to be examined by the Joint Committee with a view to recommendations.

China must give favourable consideration to EEC imports. The EEC, for its part, will gradually move towards greater liberalisation for imports from China. It will endeavour to expand the list of products that may be freely imported and increase the amount of quotas.

Provision is made for information to be exchanged before either party takes any action. In exceptional cases where rapid action is required, the two parties must hold friendly consultations as soon as possible before acting. Both parties are to ensure that in any event their actions do not prejudice the general objectives of the Agreement.

Trade in goods and the provision of services is to be effected at market-related prices and rates. Payments for the transactions may be made in any convertible currency accepted by the two parties concerned by the transactions.

Economic cooperation

In order to promote the development of their industry and agriculture, diversify their economic links, encourage scientific and technological progress, open up new sources of supply and new markets, help to develop their economies and raise their respective standards of living, the two parties agree to develop economic cooperation in:

  • industry and mining;
  • agriculture, including agro-industry;
  • science and technology;
  • energy;
  • transport and communication;
  • the protection of the environment;
  • cooperation in third countries.

The EEC and China will also encourage industrial and technical cooperation through, for instance, joint production, joint ventures, common exploitation, the transfer of technology, contacts and activities to promote exchanges between the business communities, seminars, cooperation between financial institutions, consultancy services, technical assistance and continuous exchange of information.

The parties also undertake to encourage investment, in particular by creating a favourable climate by providing investment promotion and protection arrangements.

The EEC states that it is prepared to continue its development activities in China in the context of development aid. The Member States are, for their part, entirely free to engage in bilateral activities in the field of economic cooperation and to conclude new economic cooperation agreements with China where appropriate.

Joint Committee

The Agreement establishes a Joint Committee made up of representatives of the contracting parties. It meets once a year, in Brussels and Beijing alternately, and is chaired by each party in turn. Extraordinary meetings may be convened and working parties set up. The Joint Committee’s tasks are:

  • to monitor and examine the functioning of the Agreement;
  • to examine any questions that may arise in the implementation of the Agreement;
  • to examine issues that might hinder cooperation;
  • to examine new means and possibilities of developing trade and economic cooperation;
  • to make recommendations for achieving the objectives of the Agreement.

The Agreement was concluded for an initial period of five years and is renewed automatically every year provided neither of the contracting parties gives written notice of termination six months before its expiry. The Agreement is still in force in 2004.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Council Regulation (EEC) No 2616/85 and Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the European Economic Community and the People’s Republic of China. 22.09.1985 OJ L 250 of 19.9.1985

Related Acts

In 1994 and 2002 the Agreement was supplemented by exchanges of letters establishing broader political dialogue between the EU and China.

In 2003 the Commission adopted a policy paper on “A maturing partnership – shared interests and challenges in EU-China relations” [COM(2003) 533 final] which supplements and updates the 2001 Communication on ” EU strategy towards China: Implementation of the 1998 communication and future steps for a more effective EU policy.”

In 2006, the Commission proposed and made recommendations to strengthen the EU – China partnership in its Communication entitled ‘EU – China: Closer partners, growing responsibilities’, of 24 October 2006 [COM(2006) 631 final].

Council Decision of 16 November 2004 on the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters [Official Journal L 375 of 23 December 2004].

Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters [Official Journal L 375 of 23 December 2004].

This agreement entered into force on 1 April 2005.

EU-China relations: a maturing partnership

EU-China relations: a maturing partnership

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU-China relations: a maturing partnership


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

EU-China relations: a maturing partnership

Document or Iniciative

Commission guidance document of September 10 entitled “A maturing partnership – shared interests and challenges in EU-China relations” (updating of Commission communications of 1998 and 2001 on EU-China relations) [COM(2003) 533 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


This document, adopted by the Council on 13 October 2003, reviews the achievements of the 2001 strategy towards China, and the 1998 document aimed at establishing a “global partnership” with the country. The Commission believes that the overall objectives are still largely valid, but recognises the need to update the action plan.

The new maturity of this relationship is based on closer coordination. The range of issues has widened, political dialogue has evolved and a number of sectoral agreements have been concluded. In the current climate, there is undeniable interest in acting as strategic partners, given the increasing importance of both actors on the world stage and their converging positions, particularly with regard to the essential role of organisations and multilateral systems.

Charting a course for EU action

The document sets out five priority areas, each accompanied by its context, its implementation since 2001 and the new actions proposed by the EU and China. The first is shared responsibilities in promoting global governance. According to the Commission, China could play a fundamental role in reconciling the interests of developing and developed countries, and in promoting peace and stability in Asia.

With an increasingly active and constructive foreign policy, China has seen how well the measures proposed by the 2001 strategy have progressed. Political dialogue has been strengthened, with priority on human rights and participation in it diversified. Issues concerning Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao have also been addressed, as have disarmament and global environmental issues.

Co-operation on Burma/Myanmar, illegal migration and trafficking in human beings has been stepped up. On the issue of trafficking, the Commission wants to conclude a readmission agreement.

New actions proposed by the Commission in this area include reinforced political dialogue that stresses quality over quantity through the organisation of more frequent consultations, and the coordination of Member States’ policies towards China, putting China on the agenda in the EU’s dialogue with certain third countries.

There are three levels of priorities for political dialogue:

  • bilateral: human rights, finding a solution to the question of Tibet, illegal migration, greater cooperation in areas of justice and home affairs, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan;
  • regional: strengthening cooperation on issues of mutual concern in the region as regards to assuring peace and security, a continuation of China’s dynamic approach in the ASEM process, enhancing consultations with China on the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to reinforce the ARF’s role on regional security issues;
  • global: more frequent dialogue on global governance issues, the promotion of a coordinated approach and of joint EU-China initiatives, the promotion of multilateralism, of security, non-proliferation/disarmament issues, strengthened dialogue on counter-terrorism, collaboration in the face of global environmental challenges and joint research into SARS.

The second activity is supporting China’s transition to an open society based upon the rule of law and the respect for human rights. China has made progress towards the rule of law, and civil society has developed significantly. There is, however, still a significant gap between the current human rights situation in China and internationally accepted standards. Although EU-China dialogue has borne fruit, through the organisation of seminars, exchanges of views and assistance programmes, there are still issues to be resolved, such as the death penalty, administrative detention and torture. Freedom of expression, of religion and of association and the rights of minorities are still causes for concern.

The proposed new actions involve stepping up cooperation projects to complement the dialogue. This dialogue should be carried out at junior minister level, focusing on areas that are lagging behind, placing emphasis on increased visibility and transparency, and promoting exchanges between experts. Cooperation programmes should revolve around human rights and good governance, with training programmes for legal professionals, and a sharing of know-how and ensuring that it is widely applied. A third aspect involves support for civil society, encouraging contacts and providing assistance for capacity-building and the creation of networks.

Promoting China’s economic opening at home and abroad is the third activity proposed. China’s integration into the world economy is in everyone’s interest, and the Commission is eager to assist in the process. In the wake of its accession to the WTO in 2001, China has benefited greatly from globalisation, becoming a powerhouse of economic growth for the region.

Despite progress in internal reform, some problems remain. They are mainly linked to market access, services, the enforcement of intellectual property rights and adherence to international standards. Reform and opening have been accompanied by a significant rise in unemployment and underemployment, creating a sizeable rural-urban divide.

In 2001, an EU network was created to track China’s implementation of WTO commitments, with regular consultations and joint studies. Sectoral dialogue has also been stepped up, notably with regard to industrial products, the information society, environmental policies, research and the promotion of human development. New bilateral agreements have been drawn up for maritime transport and the “authorised destination status”. Proposals for agreements on administrative assistance for satellite navigation have also been set up.

The Commission believes that new actions are required in the following areas:

  • the WTO, trade and investment; The Commission is putting forward various initiatives for the adoption of WTO commitments, the Doha Development Agenda, regional integration, intellectual property rights, support for initiatives from Community industry, and other measures linked directly to trade;
  • sectoral issues, including industrial products, the information society, sanitary and phyto-sanitary questions, energy and environmental policies, nuclear research, science and technology, the ITER fusion research project and a cooperation agreement in the framework of the Galileo satellite navigation project;
  • economic and social reform; The Commission proposes supporting reforms in all these areas, promoting exchanges of experience in areas of regional and macroeconomic policies, a cooperation project for the reform of social security, dialogue on industrial policy and efforts to involve civil society more closely.

The fourth activity is the EU-China Co-operation Programme – a mutually beneficial partnership underpinning EU objectives. China is part of many Union-financed programmes in the Asian region (the Asia Information Technology and Communication Programme, Asia-Invest, Asia-Link, etc.), which has improved its cooperation with the Union. There is, however, a delay in the implementation of the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for 2002-2004, and the Commission therefore proposes completing the mid-term NIP review and drawing up a new programme to cover 2005-2006. The Chinese authorities should be involved in its preparation, and the multiannual approach should be maintained. Coordination with, and consideration of existing horizontal assistance programmes is also needed.

The fifth and final activity aims at increased EU visibility in China. The increasing access of individual Chinese citizens to sources of information should allow the EU get its message across. The Commission proposes to concentrate on four points: sharing China’s concern for a more balanced international order, the defence of a number of shared values, support for reforms underway in China, and the fact that the EU is a major global trading power and market.

Further Commission proposals in this domain include a series of activities such as a study of the perception of the EU in China, spreading more information, raising awareness in China of EU cooperation with China, and reinforcing people-to-people exchanges. Rationalising the current institutional structure, and prioritising quality and effective coordination are other concerns for which the Commission has solutions to propose.

Related Acts

Council Decision of 16 November 2004 on the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters [Official Journal L 375 of 23.12.2004].

Proposal of 23 April 2004 for a Council Decision on the signing of the Cooperation Agreement on a Civil Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) – GALILEO between the European Community and its Member States and the People’s Republic of China [COM(2003) 578 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

2004/265/EC: Council Decision of 8 March 2004 concerning the conclusion of thebetween the European Community and the National Tourism Administration of the People’s Republic of China on visa and related issues concerning tourist groups from the People’s Republic of China (ADS) [Official Journal L 083 of 20.03.2004].

Strategy document for China 2002-2006, approved on 1 March 2002 ( )

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 15 May 2001, “EU Strategy towards China: Implementation of the 1998 Communication and Future Steps for a more Effective EU Policy” [COM(2001) 265 final – Not published in the Official Journal]

2000/16/EC: Council Decision of 2 December 1999 concluding the Agreement for scientific and technological cooperation between the European Community and the Government of the People’s Republic of China [Official Journal L 006 of 11.01.2000].

Communication from the Commission of 25 March 1998 – Building a comprehensive partnership with China [COM (1998) 181 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission – A long-term Policy for China-Europe Relations [COM(1995) 279 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Council Regulation (EEC) No 2616/85 of 16 September 1985 concerning the conclusion of abetween the European Economic Community and the People’s Republic of China [Official Journal L 250 of 19.09.1985].

EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities

EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 October 2006 entitled “EU-China: closer partners, growing responsibilities” [COM(2006) 631 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


The European Union (EU) supports the sustainable development of China by strengthening its partnership for political, economic and social reform. Strong economic growth in China has promoted stability and poverty reduction but the country still faces significant challenges.

In this respect, the two partners have decided to re-assess their trade and cooperation agreement in order to establish a more global partnership, covering the whole of their relationship.

The Commission also presents the cooperation priorities for the partners, which take into consideration their joint interests and the development of their relationship.

Supporting political transition

The EU and China hold regular political dialogue on human rights, the protection of minorities and the strengthening of the rule of law. In this field, the partners shall:

  • orient their objectives towards achieving concrete results;
  • monitor their actions;
  • coordinate their actions with bilateral dialogues conducted between China and the EU Member States.

Promoting energy efficiency and environmental protection

China and the EU are two of the principal actors in the global energy markets. Their cooperation is carried out within a context of increased energy demands. In particular, it aims to:

  • improve transparency and the regulatory environment of the energy sector;
  • exchange techniques and information for managing resources effectively, and the development of renewable energies;
  • favour investment and the opening up of public procurement;
  • promote the application of international standards.

On the basis of a joint declaration in 2005, the EU assists China on preventing pollution, protecting biodiversity, combating deforestation, and the sustainable management of fisheries, water resources and raw materials.

This declaration also opens the way for closer cooperation on tackling climate change, specifically in order to meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol.

Balancing economic and social development

The EU proposes extending the political dialogue to decent work standards, health and the ageing population.

In addition, China must reform its growth model in order to promote social inclusion and to increase the purchasing power of its population. The partners shall cooperate to define and implement balanced monetary and fiscal policies.

Improving trade and economic relations

The EU is China’s largest trading partner. Its imports represent more than 19 % of China’s external trade. In addition, the growing Chinese market represents a significant export opportunity for European companies.

In order to comply with commitments to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the partners must specifically:

  • promote the opening up of the Chinese market to investments and exports;
  • define fair trade rules, specifically regarding protecting intellectual property rights and decent work standards;
  • resolve trade disputes through dialogue or trade defence measures and the WTO dispute settlement system.

Strengthening sectoral cooperation

More targeted bilateral cooperation is needed in the following fields:

  • cooperation in science and technology, including the participation of researchers in the respective research programmes and projects of each of the partners;
  • immigration, to establish a legal framework for exchanges and readmission, but also concerning the fight against organised crime and terrorism;
  • cultural exchanges, by supporting relations between the civil societies;
  • education, through student exchange programmes and interaction between universities.

Encouraging security and international cooperation

The EU and China both have an interest in conducting a structured dialogue on peace and security in certain regions of the world, particularly in East Asia, where China is a key player. The EU also supports dialogue between China and Taiwan in order to promote the stability of the region.

The cooperation also concerns transparency on military expenditure, nuclear non-proliferation and the progressive lifting of the European arms embargo.

Lastly, the partners must work together to coordinate international actions in the area of development aid, particularly for sustainable development, peace and stability in Africa.


A new partnership with South-East Asia

A new partnership with South-East Asia

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A new partnership with South-East Asia


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

A new partnership with South-East Asia

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication on a new partnership with South-East Asia [COM(2003) 399 final – Not published in the Official Journal]


The Communication proposes that EU/South-East Asia relations should be further developed in line with the guidelines contained in the 2001 Communication on ‘ Europe and Asia, a Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships ‘.

South-East Asia is defined as covering the association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a regional grouping consisting of 10 individual countries: Brunei Darussalam, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and East Timor, which is not yet a member of ASEAN.

The Communication identifies six strategic priorities:

  • supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism;
  • promoting human rights, democratic principles and good governance;
  • mainstreaming justice and home affairs issues;
  • injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations;
  • continuing to support the development of less prosperous countries;
  • intensifying dialogue and cooperation in specific strategic sectors.

Reasons for enhancing relations

The EU and South-East Asia share stronger economic, political and security interests than ever before. The future will see a shift in the centre of gravity of the world economy to the Asia Pacific region, with ASEAN emerging as a key partner for trade and investment. ASEAN is also making efforts towards creating a regional economic space that will help attract foreign direct investment, e.g. the creation of the free-trade area in January 2003.

The two regions find themselves more dependent on one another in addressing global challenges and the EU therefore wishes to broaden its programme of cooperation with South-East Asia. The priorities remain poverty reduction and improving basic health and education services. The European Community has adopted a holistic approach that acknowledges the inter-relationship of different issues so as to address them in the best possible way.

The two regions also share common features and values, such as a preference for diversity, regional integration and a peaceful and rule-based multi-polar world with strong multilateral organisations.


ASEAN was originally created as a mechanism for preventing crises and one of the EU’s priorities is also to contribute to supporting regional stability and the fight against terrorism. Through dialogue and other action, its role is to prevent conflict and foster peace and stability. In matters of political dialogue, the Commission believes that ASEM is the most appropriate framework to deal with global issues, while region-specific issues should be dealt with in the ASEAN context. In its opinion, the EU should also play a more active role in the ARF, the ASEAN Regional Forum. Although it actively supports the ASEAN integration process, it recognises that only the ASEAN countries can determine the rhythm of the process.

Support for regional cooperation is also designed to combat terrorism. In the opinion of the EU, action against terrorism not only involves security and public order measures but also political, social, economic and financial governance. It therefore encourages ASEAN to implement a comprehensive strategy, taking care to respect human rights and peaceful political opposition. The EU is also prepared to consider support to any country that requires its assistance for the implementation of UNSC resolution 1373 (on cooperation in the fight against terrorism) and other relevant UN conventions.

With a view to promoting human rights, democratic principles and good governance, the Commission believes that new agreements should all contain the ‘essential element’ clause. This clause stipulates that respect for fundamental human rights and democratic principles, as laid down in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, underpins the internal and external policies of the parties and constitutes an essential element of the agreement. The parties may also decide to launch human rights-specific bilateral dialogues. Specific cooperation measures should be undertaken to support democratic structures, build the capacity of institutions, improve the rule of law and governance and strengthen civil society. Strengthening institutional and regulatory frameworks and fighting corruption are priorities in the area of good governance.

Another priority is to mainstream justice and home affairs issues in the EU’s external relations. Issues of migration, combating organised crime, trafficking in human beings, money laundering, illicit drugs, piracy and counterfeiting should be incorporated systematically into dialogues.

With a view to injecting a new dynamism into regional trade and investment relations, the Commission proposes a trade action plan, the Trans-Regional EU-ASEAN Trade Initiative (TREATI), which is set out in Annex II. This initiative paves the way for a possible free-trade agreement that should only come after the conclusion of the Doha Development Round and be subject to sufficient progress on regulatory convergence.

TREATI proposes that EU-ASEAN cooperation on trade issues should take place on a region-to-region basis and in a context of flexible cooperation. Bilateral dialogues on economic issues should be further supplemented by a dialogue mechanism involving at least two ASEAN countries. Close coordination on technical assistance and capacity-building would be required and each country would have to develop its own road-map setting out the stages and schedule for its participation in the various activities.

Continuing to support the development of less prosperous countries is another priority with poverty reduction as its main goal. The priority issues here are assisting poor countries in their integration in the world economy, governance and human rights, environment and forestry, justice and home affairs issues, the fight against terrorism, trade-related technical assistance, supporting the TREATI process and ASEAN’s integration process.

Assistance should be concentrated in a limited number of key areas, based on a sectoral approach, and involve actors from outside the public sector. The Commission will promote trilateral cooperation and twinning arrangements.

The Commission offers a list of sectors in which dialogue and cooperation need to be intensified. Both parties can choose sectors of genuine mutual interest and then opt for a regional or bilateral approach. These sectors and the present situation, specific issues identified and suggested lines of action for each one are described in Annex III. They are as follows:

  • economic and trade issues;
  • justice and home affairs issues;
  • science, technology, research and development;
  • higher education and culture;
  • energy;
  • transport;
  • the information society;
  • statistics.

Institutional framework and resources

The Commission proposes to revitalise ties with South-East Asia through the strengthening of bilateral relations since the renegotiation of the only existing regional agreement – dating from 1980 – is impossible owing to the EU common position on Burma/Myanmar, one of the members of ASEAN. The legal basis for cooperation is the 1992 Regulation on financial and technical assistance to, and economic cooperation with, the developing countries in Latin America and Asia.

For optimum use of the institutional framework (bilateral agreements, ARF, ASEM, etc.) and available resources, the Commission proposes an evaluation based on political and institutional feasibility, the achievement of maximum impact, demand from the region or the country and the best possible use of available resources. It puts forward options for optimising the institutional framework:

  • EU-ASEAN ministerial meetings for regional political dialogue;
  • ASEM summits, ministerial meetings and ARF ministerial meetings on global and security issues;
  • consultations between ASEAN and EC economic affairs ministers;
  • an official bilateral institutional framework for implementation of agreements.

Alternative options are proposed for the optimisation of resources:

  • taking advantage of the network of Commission delegations;
  • improving the quality and delivery of EC external assistance through better strategic programming;
  • looking for greater synergies between EIB and Commission operations.

A new visibility strategy

To counter the lack of mutual awareness, the Commission proposes a coordinated visibility campaign. Efforts should be intensified in the area of academic, scientific and cultural exchanges.

Related Acts

Council Conclusions of 26 January 2004

Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao

Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Possibilities for cooperation with Hong Kong and Macao (2007-2013)

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 25 October 2006 entitled “The European Union, Hong Kong and Macao: possibilities for cooperation 2007-2013” [COM(2006) 648 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Cooperation between the European Union (EU) and the Hong Kong and Macao Special Administrative Regions (SARs) is based principally on economic, trade and financial actions.

Since the handover of Hong Kong and Macao to China, these two SARs have been governed by the “one country, two systems” principle. In effect, their governments possess a high degree of autonomy in trade, fiscal, financial and regulatory matters, as well as their own legal and market economy systems. They are also members of international bodies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Customs Organization (WCO).

Greater cooperation

The region of Hong Kong is a major maritime and air transportation hub in Asia. It is a major trading partner of the EU; thousands of European companies and citizens are established there. European diplomatic presence is represented there by a permanent office and a European chamber of commerce, in addition to the diplomatic and trade missions of Member States.

Cooperation between Hong Kong and the EU is based on a set of agreements on:

  • trade, under the framework of WTO multilateral commitments;
  • customs cooperation, specifically with the aim of combating fraud and piracy;
  • readmission of persons residing without authorization.

However, cooperation must also progress in the areas of competition rules and intellectual property rights.

The EU is Macao’s third largest trading partner. The close links it retains with Portuguese culture also contribute to the strength of its cooperation relations with the EU.

The partners concluded a trade cooperation agreement in 1992, which acted as a framework for funding projects in different areas (training, tourism, European studies, services, law, etc.), as well as a readmission agreement for persons in 2002.

New areas for cooperation

The partners identify a set of priorities aimed at expanding their cooperation. The EU must also endeavour to participate in the actions of trilateral cooperation undertaken by Hong Kong, Macao and mainland China.

In the areas of trade and customs, there is a need to:

  • improve the exchange of information and coordination on bilateral and multilateral trade;
  • strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights, combat smuggling and make shipping more secure;
  • develop exchanges of best practice on competition policy and public procurement;
  • support businesses, and inform them of the possibilities to access markets, specifically to the benefit of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);
  • encourage university exchanges, in particular concerning training on business management.

The partners also need to give new impetus to their financial cooperation by developing dialogue and through regulatory convergence (investment funds, company law, etc.). In addition, the cooperation should contribute towards compliance with the principles of good fiscal governance in order to promote the business environment, growth and jobs.

Cooperation must also make progress with regard to immigration and university exchanges.

As regards transport, maritime security and regulation must be the subject of enhanced cooperation. Similarly, the partners share common interests on matters relating to legal certainty for air carriers and civil aviation.

Action must also be taken to improve the protection of health, food and product safety, and in particular to promote the implementation of rapid alert systems for foodstuffs and compliance with EU safety standards.

Effort must be made to promote environmental protection, particularly through combating air and water pollution, and reducing industrial emissions.

Related Acts

Joint Report to the European Parliament and the Council: Annual Report Hong Kong 2010 [COM(2011) 204 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Joint Report to the European Parliament and the Council: Annual Report Macao 2010 [COM(2011) 205 Final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Regional strategy for Asia 2007-2013

Regional strategy for Asia 2007-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Regional strategy for Asia 2007-2013


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Regional strategy for Asia 2007-2013

Document or Iniciative

European Commission – Regional Strategy Paper 2007-2013 for Asia .


The Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) defines the objectives and the priorities of the cooperation between the European Union (EU) and Asia for the period 2007-2013. Asia covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Challenges faced by Asia

At political level, Asia, which is marked by the emergence of China and India, has multiple systems of governance. It faces a large number of challenges in the fields of security, nuclear proliferation, democratisation, respect for human rights, unemployment and health, fragile situations (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal), large refugee and migratory flows, labour standards, natural disasters and protection of the environment.

In the past twenty years, Asia has experienced strong economic growth, attributable to increased openness and major economic reforms. It is now the EU’s largest trading partner, most of the countries are members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), civil society is sophisticated and a dynamic business class is emerging. However, despite this progress, the rise in socio-economic indicators has led to income disparities, employment creation has declined in many countries, the benefits of growth are unequally distributed and the institutional weaknesses, natural disasters and weakness of the infrastructures continue to hamper development.

Social protection is poor in Asia; child labour, the situation of women and poverty remain major challenges to be faced, as too are maternal mortality, child malnutrition, the violation of human rights, social protection, the increase in communicable diseases, health threats, gender imbalance, discrimination, etc. Southern Asia has made progress towards achieving the millennium development goals (MDG), in contrast to East Asia, which is developing less rapidly.

Asia is geographically very diverse. However, the environment is suffering from demographic pressures, rapid economic growth, industrialisation, inadequate legislation and investments, and poorly enforced protection measures which lead to unsustainable use of natural resources. In addition, climate change is likely to compound the geological and climatic instability.

Priority areas of the regional strategy 2007-2013

The main priority of the strategy is to encourage cooperation and regional integration. To achieve this, the EU supports work and dialogue with the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), the Trans-Eurasia Information Network (TEIN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The second priority encourages cooperation based on policy and know-how in the fields of the environment, education and health. It aims to promote sustainable consumption and production and trade in environmental goods and services and to support Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). It also places emphasis on the promotion of equal opportunities and the values of democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Finally, it supports the region in the control of avian flu and highly pathogenic and emerging diseases, and intends to introduce cross-border health cooperation.

The objective of the third priority is to support uprooted people in Asia by assisting them to return and settle in their country of origin or in a third country. This support establishes links between relief, reintegration and development aimed at filling the gap between emergency relief for refugees and longer-term relief. The activities are coordinated with ECHO, with due regard for operations established in the context of the country programmes. Local partnerships and development capacities will gradually be built up.

Certain cross-cutting issues (human rights, democracy, governance, etc.) will be addressed at regional level and streamlined throughout the programme, as appropriate.

Terms and conditions

For 2007-2013, the budget for Asia amounts to EUR 5.187 billion, of which 81 % is allocated to country development assistance, 16 % to regional assistance and 3 % as a reserve. The present RSP consists of a regional multiannual indicative programme (MIP), which is the programming document for the assistance, based on actions designed to achieve the priorities identified in the RSP. The first MIP has been drawn up for the period 2007-2010 (EUR 400 million); a second MIP will be drawn up for the period 2011-2013 (EUR 375 million). The RSP is complementary to country strategy papers drawn up for each country of Asia and the RSP for Central Asia . The financing instrument for development cooperation (DCI) is the main framework for financing the assistance granted under the present RSP.

The activities receiving support are the following: programmes, contacts, meetings, promotion activities, dialogue, exchange of best practices, expert meetings, regional and triangular cooperation, seminars, conferences, workshops, research, twinning, gatherings, studies, training, study trips, university exchange programmes and harmonisation of standards and legislation. Other activities will also be defined at the identification stage.

Success indicators are defined to measure the impact of the activities carried out. They spell out the objective sought by the intervention, the result and the advantages expected for the target groups, the direct effects and the activities to be carried out to achieve the expected goals. The results of these activities will be measured qualitatively and quantitatively, not only by the indicators but also by the verification criteria and other implementation mechanisms. The implementation of all the programmes will be supervised and monitored. A mid-term review of the entire programme is scheduled (2009).


The cooperation between the two regions is based on the “Europe and Asia” Communication and the European Consensus on Development, which set the eradication of poverty as a prime objective. The present RSP in this way ensures continuity of the priorities, results and experience, based on the previous RSP 2005-2006 .