The European Union (EU) remains strongly committed to further support ASEAN community building process before and post-2015 milestone, said new Ambassador and Head of the EU Delegation to ASEAN Olof Skoog.

He made the pledge while presenting his Letter of Credence to Secretary General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh in Jakarta, Indonesia on October 31.

The EU is ASEAN’s first ever and important dialogue partner and its cooperation with ASEAN has increasingly been reinforced, fuelled by positive momentums created over the last years and a deeper and stronger agenda.

The EU and ASEAN have been working hard to transform its relationship in a political sense, while opening new avenues for cooperation in such areas as mediation and reconciliation, crisis response, as well as maritime.

In Brunei in 2012, EU and ASEAN Ministers agreed to bring the partnership to a higher level by adopting a Plan of Action in political and security, trade and economics, and socio-cultural areas, thus matching ASEAN Community’s three pillars as well as to share with ASEAN lessons learnt from its own integration process.

ASEAN as a whole represents the EU’s third largest trading partner outside Europe with 206 billion EUR of trade in goods and services in 2011. Meanwhile the EU is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner, accounting for around 11 percent of the grouping’s trade.

From 2007-2013, the EU directly financed 65.9 million EUR to ASEAN’s integration efforts and has pledged to raise the aid in the 2014-2020 period.-VNA