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International Partnerships

Middle East, Asia and the Pacific

Context

The area that our work covers in the region is extremely heterogeneous in terms of socio-economic progress and level of development and democracy. It encompasses the full spectrum of countries from highly industrialised to least developed.

Although development levels are uneven, there is a continued shift towards Asia becoming the centre of the global economy. Studies estimate that by 2050, China and India will be the largest world economies, with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries coming fourth. This means the future of the Asia-Pacific region could strongly impact the future welfare of the population of the entire world.

Even though the region is economically dynamic, it is also home to almost half of the world’s poorest people. There are significant inequalities, such as energy poverty and informal work where respect of labour rights and access to social protection remain a challenge.

The area is also widely exposed to the impact of climate change - to which it is also a major contributor. It faces all types of natural disasters and environmental challenges, including pollution, deforestation and rapid biodiversity/ecosystem loss due to human activity.  

Several states are fragile, with a recent history of violent conflict and, in some cases, terrorism and extremism, or autocratic and undemocratic regimes. Human rights and democracy face therefore constant challenges. Gender inequality and child labour are still common in many countries. The region is also a major source, destination and transit area of migrants, refugees and forcibly displaced persons. The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated economic and social crisis pose additional enormous imminent challenges for the wider region.

Our approach

European Union priorities in Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East are outlined by various EU strategies for the region, in particular the April 2021 Council Conclusions on an EU Strategy for Cooperation in the IndoPacific, the EU Central Asia strategy as well as the Joint Communication on engagement with Gulf countries. 

The regional programme for 2021 to 2027 is outlined in the Asia-Pacific Multi-annual Indicative Programme. It is designed to support EU priorities in the following broad policy areas

  • Green Deal
  • Digital agenda
  • Sustainable jobs and growth
  • Migration, forced displacement and mobility  
  • Peace and security, governance and rule of law
  • Enhancing multilateralism

Given the proportion of youth in the region who are determined to pursue education and research, specific activities will be implemented through the EU’s education and training programme, Erasmus+. These are outlined in the Erasmus+ Multiannual Indicative Programme.

EU priorities in Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East

The regional programme focuses on three priority areas.