The Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an institutionalized dialogue between Asia and Europe, whose aim is to offer a suitable platform for discussing the political, economic, and cultural issues of both regions. ASEM was officially established in 1996 at the first summit in Bangkok, Thailand. ASEM is an interregional forum which consists of the European Union, its 27 members, the 10 members of ASEAN, the ASEAN Secretariat, China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea as of 2008, India, Mongolia, and Pakistan, Australia, Russia and New Zealand as of 2010, and as of 2012 Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland. Altogether, ASEM consists of 51 member states and two member organizations.
In general, the process is considered by the parties involved to be a way of deepening the relations between Asia and Europe at all levels, which is deemed necessary to achieve a more balanced political and economic world order.
ASEM meets in the following formats:
- Biannual summit of heads of states or governments, organized alternately in Europe and Asia. The next summit is planned for November 2014 in Milan, Italy.
- Biannual meetings of foreign ministers and ad hoc meetings of ministers of education, health, transport, trade, environment, etc.
- Meetings of senior ministry officials.
- Conferences, seminars, workshops, expert forums.
The main components of the ASEM process are the following so-called three pillars: Political pillar covers the various ministerial and high level meetings, but also informal workshops and seminars. Economic pillar covers meeting of finance ministers and the two Action plans, first on trade support, the second on support of investments. Cultural pillar being embodied by the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) represents the only institutionalized part of the dialogue.
ASEM offers Czech Republic a possibility of multilateral dialogue it would never be able to achieve on a bilateral level and even with countries that the Czech Republic has no accredited missions for. Lastly, participation on common projects offers Czech exporters to increase their exchange with Asia.
The Asia–Europe Foundation (ASEF) is an international non-profit organization based in Singapore established in 1997 by the countries of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). Its purpose is to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the people of Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges. The functioning of the foundation is enabled through voluntary state contributions.
In its first 15 years, ASEF has organized over 600 thematic-based projects in Asia and Europe in the form of conferences, workshops, seminars, lecture tours and online platforms. The ASEF’s projects thematically focus, inter alia, on culture, education, sustainable development, protection of public health, economic issues, and good governance. Governmental bodies and nongovernmental organizations, universities, and research think-tanks alike are involved in these projects.
Czech Republic participates in the ASEF from 2004, that is, from its entry into the EU, and up to 2010 it contributed 75 000 US dollars a year. The amount has decreased due to budget pressures and in 2013 it reached 30 000 USD.