ASEM was first conceived by then-PM Goh Chok Tong in October 1995 as a mechanism to strengthen links between Asia and Europe. While the links between Asia and the US, and between Europe and the US were strong, links between Asia and Europe were relatively weak, despite the long history of contacts between the two continents. To foster global stability, it was important that the three main growth areas of the world - the US, Europe and Asia - should have strong links. ASEM's goal has been to strengthen Asia-Europe links in three main areas - political dialogue, economic cooperation, and social/cultural/people-to-people cooperation.
Since ASEM's inception, a total of 9 Summits have taken place:
Inaugural ASEM: Bangkok, 1 to 2 March 1996
ASEM II: London, 3 to 4 April 1998
ASEM III: Seoul, 19 to 21 October 2000
ASEM IV: Copenhagen, 22 to 24 September 2002
ASEM V: Hanoi, 8 to 9 October 2004
ASEM VI: Helsinki, 10 to 11 September 2006
ASEM VII: Beijing, 24 to 25 October 2008
ASEM VIII: Brussels, 4 to 5 October 2010
ASEM IX: Laos, 5 to 6 November 2012
The participants in ASEM are:
Asia: Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, the ASEAN Secretariat, Australia, New Zealand and Russia.
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the European Commission.
The 10th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting was held in Gödöllő, Hungary from 6 - 7 June 2011. The overarching theme for the Meeting - "Working together on non-traditional security challenges" - provided the opportunity for the Ministers to address relevant issues of common interest in this important field, which due to their transnational character have substantial implications for the prosperity, security and stability of both Europe and Asia.
The ASEM VIII Summit was held in Brussels, Belgium from 4 to 5 October 2010. Themed "Achieving greater wellbeing and more dignity for all citizens", the discussions focused on a broad range of issues such as global governance structures, sustainable development, and global challenges as well as regional and international developments.
The 9th ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting was held in Hanoi, Vietnam from 25 to 26 May 2009. Themed "Forging Closer Asia-Europe Partnership to Address the Financial and Economic Crisis and Other Global Challenges", the discussions focused on a broad range of issues such as cooperation to address the global financial and economic crisis, joint efforts to tackle global challenges, regional and international developments, dialogue among cultures and civilisations and the future of ASEM.
The ASEM VII Summit was held in Beijing, China, from 24 to 25 October 2008. The Summit saw the first gathering of leaders from 45 ASEM partners since the second round of enlargement in 2006. The Summit's overarching theme was "Vision and Action: Towards and Win-Win Solution" and was set against the background of the global financial crisis. Even though the financial crisis took pre - eminence at the Summit, Leaders also engaged in substantive discussion on other pressing global issues like energy security, food security, climate change and dialogue between civilisations.
The 8th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting was held in Hamburg, Germany from 28 to 29 May 2007. Discussions were held on a broad range of issues of common interest including energy and climate change, counter terrorism, non - proliferation, world trade and the United Nations; as well as international issues such as the situations in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East, and recent developments in Asia and Europe. The Asia Europe Foundation (ASEF) also took the opportunity to provide a stock-take of its activities and briefed the meeting on its future plans.
The ASEM VI Summit, held in Helsinki, Finland, from 10 to 11 September 2006, marked the 10th Anniversary of the ASEM process. The Summit endorsed the admission of India, Mongolia, Pakistan, the ASEAN Secretariat, Romania and Bulgaria into the ASEM process. This latest expansion brings the total number of ASEM members to 45. The Chairman's Statement for the Summit highlighted the various key areas of discussion, including a reflection on the first 10 years of ASEM, regional developments such as the situation in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula, the importance of strengthening multilateralism, addressing security threats, globalisation and competitiveness, sustainable development (including issues related to the environment and energy security), and the dialogue among cultures and civilisations. The Summit also issued a Declaration on Climate Change, and a Declaration on the Future of ASEM.
The Asia-Europe Foundation (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 the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which currently comprises 49 member states plus the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat. ASEF was established in February 1997 by the participating governments of ASEM and has since engaged over 17,000 direct participants through more than 600 projects in the realms of governance and human rights, economy and society, sustainable development and environment, public health, arts and culture and academic co-operation and education.
DUO-SINGAPORE EXCHANGE FELLOWSHIP AWARD
The ASEM DUO Fellowship Fund aims to promote student exchanges between European and Asian ASEM members. Under this fund, the DUO-Singapore Exchange Fellowship is awarded by the Singapore government to fund several pairs of student exchanges a year between students from Singapore universities and students from universities of European ASEM countries. To date, a total of 291 students, from faculties including accountancy, biological sciences, business, economics, engineering and law, have benefited from the programme.