Europe has a major role to play in the Asia-Pacific region, EU President Herman Van Rompuy declared in a speech on November 9, both as a trading partner and as “a potential major factor contributing to [Asia’s] stability.” His address emphasized that this “should also be reflected in higher political attention paid to and political activity shown in the region.”
Despite this, the EU and its members will be noticeably absent when the ASEAN and East Asia summits begin on Thursday in Bali. Both US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will lead their countries’ first delegation to the East Asia Summit, which will also include China, Australia, India, and Japan; the US will also take part in an additional bilateral summit with ASEAN. This comes at the heels of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent declaration of a “Pacific Century” for the US, as Washington looks to build its influence and partnerships in the region.
That leaves the EU sitting on the sidelines in an important region of the world while its major ally and trading partner, the US, asserts a stronger foreign policy there, in front of other major global players. As the US attempts to build a new “network of institutions and relationships” in the Pacific, what role does the EU have to play? How should Europe respond to a US that is less focused on the transatlantic partnership, and how can it become involved on the regional Pacific stage?
Over the next week, atlantic-community.org will publish daily opinion articles from regional experts, as well as Atlantic Community members, offering a range of opinions and policy recommendations on EU policy towards the Pacific. We count among our distinguished contributors:
- Shada Islam, Head of Policy at Friends of Europe, who discusses why trade is not enough to sustain EU-Asia ties
- Fraser Cameron, Director of the EU-Asia Centre, on the European Union accepting the importance of Asia and its own place on the global stage
- Chris Ogden, Lecturer in Asian Security at the University of St. Andrews, on why a unified EU-US bloc is necessary to counterbalance rising Asian powers
- Jordan Becker, Instructor in International Relations at the US Military Academy, on why it is the Atlantic partnership that makes America's Pacific policy possible
- Frans-Paul van der Putten, Senior Research Fellow at Clingendael in The Hague, who says that the EU cannot afford to be left out of any more multilateral meetings in Asia
- Liselotte Odgaard, Associate Professor at the Royal Danish Defence College, who contends that Europe will have to choose between China's new international regimes and those of the US
- David Camroux, Senior Researcher at Sciences-Po in Paris, on how November is a turning point in Asian relations and why the EU should focus more on bilateral partnerships in Asia
- Benjamin Brower, a freelance writer and recent graduate of Gettysberg College in the US, who argues that only a federal EU can wield influence in the Asia-Pacific region
As always, we invite all Atlantic Community members to make comments on these articles and the issues they raise; check back daily as we publish each new segment! After the theme week, we will present an Atlantic Memo bringing together the best policy recommendations from your articles and comments. We encourage you to make use of this opportunity to contribute fresh ideas and make an impact on the policy debate.