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This book highlights the emerging bidirectional interactions between Europe—primarily the EU—and Asia in the fields of political economy, development, environmental policy, security, diplomacy, and inter-institutional relations within the context of two recent global trends: the rise of China and the growing withdrawal of the U.S. from multilateral commitments. The volume incorporates nine different aspects and dimensions of Asian-European relations. In recent decades, Asia has (re-)gained rising importance on the world stage, which also entails closer interconnections with Europe. In an age of receding American global leadership and reduced commitments to its European allies, the EU and its member states have increasingly become more open to seeking and considering new partnerships. The rising economic prowess of Asia has made it of particular interest for European states. The book’s focus lies on potential challenges and opportunities in the bidirectional interactions between European and Asian states and institutions.



The Rise of European-Asian Relations


Chapter 1. Introduction

This chapter highlights the importance of the growing ties between Europe and the countries of Asia. The changing international political environment given the U.S.’s decreasing international commitments is highlighted in this chapter. The overviews of the constituent chapters of this edited volume is also discussed.
Bibek Chand, Lukas K. Danner

Europe & East Asia

Chapter 2. The EU as Pivotal Player in the Growing China–U.S. Conflict

In 2017–2020, the EU faced three great geopolitical challenges. Under Donald Trump, the U.S. turned against the norms, rules, and institutions of the rules-based international order that formed the bedrock of transatlantic relations for decades. At the same time, China turned a more authoritarian turn at home and a more assertive approach. And the U.S.–China relations nose-dived into a general trade, technology, and security contest in the wake of strong U.S. moves. The Biden administration has generally committed to continuing the confrontational approach to China, albeit in altered form. This chapter focuses on the impact of these trends on the EU strategic decisions toward China and EU–China relations. I argue that the EU has developed a triple response to this challenge: multilateral reinforcement, Cold War avoidance, and complex balancing. The EU is seeking a middle road, increasingly cooperating with China on a range of global topics, while seeking U.S. support to constrain threatening dimensions of China’s power or economic policy. This approach has to overcome a growing clash between EU economic interests and EU values and security position and has not reached a stable equilibrium yet.
Yves Tiberghien

Chapter 3. Making Sense of the EU–China Relations: Partners and Rivals

The EU faces an urgent question of how to create a “united front” to formulate its China policy and strategically position itself in the rivalry between a global hegemon and rising power. This chapter reviews the evolving EU–China relationship and explores areas of closer cooperation and growing tensions. Through three cases that exemplify the intensifying degree of bilateral cooperation and conflict, this chapter argues that EU–Chinese relations have transformed due to China’s surging interest and influence in Europe and its emerging trend of decoupling with the U.S. China has been, simultaneously, a cooperating partner with whom the EU has closely aligned objectives (climate change), a negotiated partner with whom the EU needs to find a balance of interests (AIIB), and an economic competitor against whom the EU needs to defend its interests and values (BRI). The chapter defines China both as a strategic partner and as a systemic rival to the EU.
Wei Liang

Chapter 4. Korean, Japanese, and Chinese Free Trade Agreements with European States in an Age of U.S. Protectionism

This chapter takes a close look at the ongoing and concluded negotiations as well as the ratification of FTAs between the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with European nations—individually, such as with some (or all) of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member countries as well as with the EU—within the past decade but, of course, with a focus on the current situation that emerged after 2016, i.e., an environment in which free trade (and possibly the global liberal order and institutional framework at large) is threatened by American protectionism initiated by the former Trump administration. The authors raise the questions of whether these agreements are part of a long-term free trade strategy of Europeans, Japan, the ROK, and the PRC, and how far these recent FTAs between Europe and Asia are related to U.S. protectionism or the rise of China.
Lukas K. Danner

Europe & Southeast Asia

Chapter 5. The ASEAN–EU Relations and the ASEAN Regional Integration

This chapter analyzes the relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) through the specific program on ASEAN integration. This chapter begins by tracing the relationship between ASEAN and the EU. Then, it analyzes the depth and the width of the cooperation between ASEAN and the EU. After that, it discusses the opportunities for ASEAN integration with support from the EU. Besides the opportunities from the EU support, the program of ASEAN integration is also strengthened by China which is another significant partner of ASEAN. The chapter then proceeds to discuss specific challenges related to the role of the EU in ASEAN integration. It finally argues that the improved relationship and cooperation between ASEAN and the EU have significantly contributed to the ASEAN regional integration process.
Siremorn Asvapromtada

Chapter 6. An Analysis of EU Free Trade Agreements and Negotiations with Southeast Asian Countries

This chapter examines the EU’s interactions on the level of FTAs with Southeast Asian countries with a focus on two sets of ASEAN states: Vietnam and Singapore, where deals have been concluded and are in effect as of 2019 and 2020, respectively. It also covers Indonesia and Thailand, with which negotiations are ongoing since 2016 and on hold since 2014, respectively. The authors assess the successes and challenges in attaining these FTAs within the backdrop of the strategic concerns over the rise of China and growing U.S. retrenchment, particularly within the context of Southeast Asia.
Bibek Chand, Lukas K. Danner

Chapter 7. EU–Southeast Asian Relations: What Lies Ahead?

This chapter examines the EU’s relations vis-à-vis Southeast Asia (SEA) in light of recent changes in the international environment, such as the greater assertiveness of China in SEA and growing uncertainty regarding the U.S.’ future role in the Asia–Pacific region. These changes not only threaten several Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members’ foreign policy autonomy and undermine ASEAN unity and centrality but, in doing so, provide a real opportunity for the EU to play a greater role in the region. At a time when many Southeast Asian countries seek to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket and increasingly try to tackle excessive dependencies on China, the EU, which already has made substantial investments in the region, may be able to build onto existing relationships in the economic, political, and security realms and solidify them.
Katja Weber

Europe & South and Central Asia

Chapter 8. EU–India Relations and New Political Realities: Normative Convergence and Its Implications for Shared Strategic Concerns

This chapter highlights the historically convergent democratic values of the European Union and India and what that means for their growing common strategic interests. EU’s foreign policy historically showcased a strong commitment towards democratic norms. India’s independence from Britain in 1947 made it the world’s largest democracy. Thus, the political normative commitments of both the EU and India have long showcased convergence. However, recent political developments have prompted strategic prudence in EU–India relations and shared normative convergence is a convenient lynchpin. In particular, the chapter analyzes the impact of three recent developments in the region and their implications for EU–India relations: the rise of China in South Asia; second, the impact of the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India on the normative convergence between the EU and India; finally, the chapter tackles the prospects of EU-Indian relations in an era of increasing American withdrawal from international politics.
Bibek Chand

Chapter 9. The European Union’s Impact in South Asia: Norms or Geopolitics?

This chapter explores the EU’s activities comparatively in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and analyzes the EU’s influence in regional politics and the domestic politics of these states. The main focus will be the interaction between the EU and these states’ political actors in both geopolitical and normative terms. What normative impact can the EU exert, given the region’s post-colonial apprehensiveness and its geostrategic distance from Europe? This chapter argues that despite the recent internal political and economic upheavals which create uncertainty about the EU’s future as a global player, the EU’s geopolitical and normative power in these South Asian states remains intact. In fact, the EU has become a critical Western power whose political muscle in the region is utilized by these states to influence both domestic and regional political dynamics and economics. Therefore, exploring the EU’s challenges and opportunities in this geopolitically sensitive region is of utmost importance.
Tamanna Ashraf

Chapter 10. The COVID-19 Pandemic: Crisis and Opportunity for a Different Approach to EU–Afghanistan Migration Management

The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively brought international migration to a halt. This chapter offers a critical sketch of the deeply flawed migration policy between the EU and Afghanistan, named in 2019 as the “world’s least peaceful state,” argues that the COVID moratorium of the forced repatriation of Afghans, or their “voluntary” return from Europe, should be made permanent, and that the pandemic crisis should be taken as an opportunity for the European Union and its member states to rethink their migration policy approach to the country. The new focus, reflecting realities on the ground and the bloc’s humanitarian obligations, should be on the establishment of a formal work visa regime with the EU-27, increasing domestic capacity building efforts via the existing EU Migration Partnerships, and, when borders reopen, facilitating regional labor migration arrangements, especially with the wealthy Gulf States who have shown a long-standing commitment to a stable Afghanistan.
Sylvia Maier

The Future of European-Asian Relations


Chapter 11. Conclusion

This chapter summarizes the findings of the core chapters regarding relations between Europe and Asia and the new challenges and opportunities. It contextualizes them in the current global situation given the rise of China, the U.S.’s retrenchment, the aspirations of the EU as a global player, and the COVID-19 global pandemic. Furthermore, it provides an outlook on the future of Euro–Asian relations.
Bibek Chand, Lukas K. Danner


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