European and Asian leaders agree on future cooperation

September 13, 2006

Brussels, 12 Sep 2006

European and Asian leaders at the Sixth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM6) in Helsinki, Finland have reached an agreement on future cooperation between the two continents, paving the way for increased collaboration in a range of policy areas. The statement coming out of the meeting reflects the conference's theme of '10 Years of ASEM: Global Challenges - Joint Responses.' A large part of the document refers to security concerns, both in Asia and the wider world.

On science and technology, the document states, 'Leaders recognised that investments in know-how and knowledge infrastructures play a key role in the promotion of scientific excellence, competitiveness and well-being of societies.' According to the statement, the leaders, 'discussed ways to enhance cooperation in the fields of innovation, science, and technology between all ASEM partners, and emphasised the importance of the EU Research Framework Programmes.'

The leaders went on the express their support for the ICT Ministerial Meeting which will be held in Vietnam later this year, and agreed to look into the possibility of a follow-up to the first Science and Technology Ministerial Conference which took place in 1999.

The importance of health research cooperation was also underlined, particularly with regards to highly pathogenic avian influenza.

Energy was high up on the agenda, both for energy security and environmental reasons. '[The Leaders] acknowledged that energy security can be enhanced by the diversification of energy sources and geographical origin, appropriate policies affecting energy demand, as well as by collaboration on research and development of renewable and alternative sources of energy,' the leaders write in their statement.

The meeting also adopted a separate Declaration on Climate Change, in which the leaders acknowledge their concern at 'the increasing scientific evidence of the adverse impacts of climate change and the risk of increase of sea level rise, frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and other adverse impacts of climate change.'

The Declaration highlights the need for international action to address the problem and help countries adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change. The Declaration also states, 'We value existing bilateral, regional and global partnerships and look forward to further enhancement of broad international collaboration in research, development, transfer and deployment of climate-friendly technologies.'

'This sends a strong signal to the world that ASEM intends to tackle the threat that climate change poses to sustainable development,' said Finnish Prime Minister and current President of the European Council Matti Vanhanen, who chaired the meeting.

The leaders also adopted the Helsinki Declaration on the Future of ASEM, which includes suggestions for practical measures to facilitate future actions. The meeting approved the entry into ASEM of six new partners: Bulgaria, Romania, India, Mongolia, Pakistan and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Secretariat. This means that by the time of the next summit in Beijing in 2008, ASEM will involve 45 countries and cover 60% of the world's population.

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