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Dialogues on Connectivity between Europe and Asia | The Next Gen EU-ASEAN Think Tank Dialogue

The COVID-19 pandemic was a vivid reminder of the inter-connectedness of our modern world. As the world moves forward from the pandemic and strives to build back better, the pandemic also serves to demonstrate that connectivity is not just an inescapable part of our daily lives, but is also essential for economic growth, prosperity and security. Not surprisingly, connectivity has become a high priority in both national and international policy agendas. The European Union (EU) has long been a champion of connectivity, an approach that predates the pandemic. In 2018, the EU laid out its vision and strategy for connecting Europe and Asia, signalling early on its commitment to building partnerships and networks in Asia. The commitment to connectivity is reiterated in the EU’s Global Gateway launched in 2021. In December 2022, the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) commemorated 45 years of diplomatic relations. The ASEAN countries as a group are the EU’s third largest trading partner outside Europe.2 10 million people travel between the two regions each year.3 However, as engagement between the two regions deepens, the opportunities created by greater connectivity also present challenges. While connectivity has become a buzzword in policy circles, what does it mean in practice? How can better connectivity be effectively implemented? How can the potential of connectivity be harnessed for maximum impact? How can greater connectivity be aligned with sustainability? This book is therefore a timely resource for academics and policy practitioners alike to delve deeper into the issues of connectivity. This book is a collection of papers by young researchers from the EU and ASEAN that explores some of these questions. This book is part of a three-volume set of research papers produced under the project “Think Next, Act Next – The Next Gen EU-ASEAN Think Tank Dialogue” (EANGAGE), which aims to encourage greater collaboration between the EU and ASEAN, inspire joint research and foster greater awareness of the EU’s engagement in the ASEAN region. Co-funded by the European Union, the two-year project was launched in 2021. The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung with its Regional Programme Political Dialogue Asia is privileged to be one of the partners for this project, and focused on research in the area of connectivity. The two other partners for the project, the Asian Vision Institute, Cambodia and the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam, were responsible for facilitating research in the areas of sustainable development and security respectively. Although connectivity is often most closely associated with digital connectivity, the papers in this volume follow the EU’s broader concept of connectivity to encompass the physical, institutional, human (or people-to people) and digital dimensions. The papers in this volume examine the current initiatives and progress in connectivity between the two regions. From a broad overview of the strategic partnership to more in-depth analysis, the papers cover a spectrum of relevant policy issues, ranging from smart cities, artificial intelligence, supply chains, trade, food security, vaccine diplomacy, digitalisation and technology to the challenges of environmental change. The papers highlight best practices and case studies, and offer concrete policy recommendations and practical solutions to further the connectivity agenda in both regions. The book brings together the extensive experience, expertise and knowledge of young researchers across the EU and ASEAN. The young research fellows of the EANGAGE project worked together across different time zones and geographies and most of them also collaborated to write research in a non-native language. This is a true testament to the spirit of EU ASEAN cooperation. The insights provided by these papers should contribute to a better understanding of EU-ASEAN cooperation. We hope that the book will be well-received and become the “go-to” guide on connectivity for researchers and policymakers in both Europe and Asia.
Release: April 24, 2023
Author: KAS