In July 2012, on the margins of the ASEAN Regional Forum meeting, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the US Secretary of State underlined the necessity for EU-US cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
The economic and political “rise of Asia” has led to increasing talk of a “Pacific century”. The Asia-Pacific is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. Some of its economies have been experiencing impressive growth rates and constitute an opportunity in terms of new markets for trade and investment. Politically, countries in the region have also increased their clout in global affairs, while regional integration efforts have created an extensive network of organisations. Nevertheless, the region also poses challenges, with the “rise of China”, in particular, motivating Euro-Atlantic countries to engage in the region.
The US “pivot to Asia-Pacific” announced in 2011 recognises the region as “key driver of global politics”. It entails a series of diplomatic, economic and military initiatives, as well as efforts to engage the EU in cooperating in the region. However, the EU and its Member States still appear to lack a common vision for the Asia-Pacific. In this sense, the opportunity for EU involvement and its capacity to effectively engage in Asia-Pacific are a matter of ongoing debate.