Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
In March 1996, the leaders of 25 European and Asian countries, together with the European Commission, convened in Bangkok, Thailand, for the inaugural Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM). This historic summit paved the way for the establishment of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) one year later in 1997. The agreement by the ASEM leaders to found ASEF can be found in the Ministerial Declaration of the 1st ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (FMM1).
ASEF is the only permanently established institution of ASEM and is funded by voluntary contributions from its member governments and shares the financing of its projects with its civil society partners across Asia and Europe.
The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) promotes greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Through ASEF, civil society concerns are included as a vital component of deliberations of the ASEM. ASEF was established in February 1997 by the participating governments and organizations of ASEM and has since implemented over 650 projects, engaging over 17,000 direct participants as well as reaching out to a much wider audience in Asia and Europe.
At the 5th ASEM Summit (ASEM5) in October 2004 in Hanoi, Viet Nam, the ASEM process expanded from 26 to 39 countries, including the 10 new members of the European Union, as well as Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar. The second round of enlargement happened in October 2007, when India, Pakistan, Mongolia, Romania, Bulgaria and the ASEAN Secretariat were officially welcomed into ASEM. During the 8th ASEM Summit (ASEM8) held in Octobre 2010 in Brussels, Belgium, 3 new members joined the ASEM process: Australia, New Zealand and the Russian Federation. This third round of enlargement increased the membership to 48 partners. During the 9th ASEM Summit (ASEM9) in November 2012 in Vientiane, the Lao PDR, ASEM was officially joined by Bangladesh, Norway, and Switzerland. Another round of enlargement took place during the 10th ASEM Summit (ASEM10) in October 2014 in Milan, Italy, when Croatia and Kazakhstan formally joined ASEM, bringing the total number of ASEM and ASEF Members to 53.
In the past 17 years, ASEF has implemented over 650 projects, bringing together more than 17,000 direct participants and reaching out to an even wider audience in Asia and Europe.