Northeast Asia and the EU   



Opening Remarks
at the EU Parliamentarians and Experts Meeting,
Brussels, Belgium,
4–5 December 2003



It is a great pleasure and honor for me to be invited to this meeting, which is  organized by Northeast Asia Economic Forum and hosted by the EU Parliament. The meeting is particularly significant because the EU is increasingly aware of the great change taking place in the Northeast Asia, while there are diverse movements in Northeast Asia aimed at promoting closer cooperation not only among countries in the region but also between the regional countries and the rest of the world, particularly the European Union.

As we are well aware, the economic conditions in Northeast Asia are undergoing a great change, characterized by the emergence of China as a giant economic powerhouse in the world, constituting one of the three pillars of the world economy together with the EU and North America.

Northeast Asian countries look upon the EU with great admiration for its historic achievement of regional integration, establishing truly remarkable European Union transcending national boundaries in the economic and political life of the people in the region.

Aspired by the EU, Northeast Asian Countries are also envisaging a Northeast Asian Community of their own in their future horizon. As a manifestation, there have been a variety of proposals including Free trade Area, Asian Monetary Fund, Energy Community, Asian Development Bank and what not.

Nothing, however, has thus far been materialized. No doubt, Northeast Asian countries have much to learn from the European experience in which many difficulties were overcome by the people and governments in the region  by virtue of the strong conviction that the regional integration bring about mutual benefit for all countries involved. I personally admire the political leadership of European countries for its great vision, insight, courage, and determination.

Under this general back ground, we are now going to discuss about implications of the changing conditions in Northeast Asia with respect to the evolving relations between the EU and Northeast Asian countries. I am confident that this meeting will serve to promote trade, investment, and other cooperative activities between the two regions. I thank again European Parliament and Northeast Asia Economic Forum for inviting us here in the beautiful city of Brussels.