The EU’s HR/VP, Federica Mogherini, will pay her first visit to Asia next week with trips to Korea and China. Asian governments have been frustrated as EU leaders, understandably, have had to concentrate on the EU’s neighbourhood since taking office last autumn. Now Asia is moving up the agenda with a range of ministerial and summit meetings planned for the coming months. The EU-Japan summit will be held on 29 May with the EU-China summit a month later.
Mogherini’s first stop will be Korea where she will be received by President Park as well as Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. Park has been keen on promoting EU-like cooperation in NE Asia (the NAPCI project) but has made little progress due to disputes over territory and history. A recent meeting of foreign ministers from Korea, Japan and China has given some hope for progress but much will depend on how the emotive history issue is dealt with in this 70th anniversary year of the end of world war two.
The EU and Korea are like-minded partners with few problems. The FTA is functioning well and the parallel political agreement has been supplemented by an agreement for Korea to participate in the EU’s CSDP missions. This will be one of the agenda items for Mogherini and Yun Byung-se to discuss along with the usual range of international issues including Russia/Ukraine, Iran, Syria/Iraq, and the DPRK.
By Fraser Cameron, Director
It is impossible to escape history and this is especially true in 2015, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Nowhere has history poisoned the contemporary political atmosphere more than in East Asia where China and Korea have criticised Abe for failing to come to terms with Japanese aggression in the 1930s.
Several EU member states have rushed to meet the 31 March deadline for countries wishing to apply to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members. In a move publicly criticised by the US, the UK was the first big member state to announce that it would join the Chinese-led bank. The British move has been followed by Germany, France, Italy and Luxembourg with others considering joining before the end of the month.
The reforms discussed at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC) plus the implications for the EU were the main topics at a panel discussion organised by the EU-Asia Centre on 18 March.
EU-ASIA Centre is a think tank dedicated to promoting closer relations between the EU and Asia.