The European Union has paid special attention to increase ties with ASEAN and countries in the region, President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy said at a meeting with representatives from the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) in Jakarta on November 19.

The union hopes the bilateral ties will be upgraded to strategic partnership in the near future, thus promoting their long-term mutual benefit relations, he added.

He spoke of the leading role played by ASEAN in maintaining peace, security and stability and promoting democracy and development in Southeast Asia, and the Asia-Pacific region in general. He reaffirmed that the EU will continue to support ASEAN in building the ASEAN Community on three pillars of politics-security, economics and culture-society, as well as back ASEAN’s centre role at forums.

The EU official suggested the two sides enhance their coordination to address non-traditional security challenges such as natural disaster, climate change, navigation security and transnational crime.

He said the union supports existing cooperation mechanisms on promoting regional security between ASEAN and its partners as well as applauding joint efforts by the bloc and the parties concerned towards the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

Regarding economic ties, Rompuy said as ASEAN’s third largest trade partner, the union will actively negotiate free trade agreements (FTA) with ASEAN’s member nations towards shaping an ASEAN-EU free trade area after the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.

During the meeting, participants focused their discussions on integration priorities and plans to build a post-2015 ASEAN Community as well as orientations for their ties.-VNA