Strategy group on EU policy towards Asia


23rd June, 2015

Chaired by:

  • Josef Janning, Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
  • François Godement, Senior Policy Fellow and Director of the ECFR Asia & China Programme


As part of its analysis of external challenges for Europe’s cohesion and capacity to act, Rethink: Europe hosted an informal scenario workshop in Warsaw on the future of European foreign policy in light of the shifting power balance in Asia. A small group of distinguished Asia analysts, diplomats from several EU member states, and key experts from India, Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam engaged in a lively and frank discussion on three scenarios for Asia’s future development: Unity and Integration, Rivalry and Conflict, and Chinese Dominance & Competition with the West.

From the conclusions, including from the final session on implications for European policy makers, three stand out:

  • European decision-makers should be much more aware of the economic and security implications of disputes that are very likely to erupt into an actual conflict
  • At stake in Asia is the entire alliance system of the United States: to which countries and contingencies does it extend in the future? What are the requirements for allies, the limitations, and its credibility?
  • Europe’s limited answers – rule of law, confidence-building, transversal and unconventional security, should not disguise the need for high-level and, above all coherent diplomatic responses, including with a balance in its relations with Asian partners. At present, should a conflict arise, Europe seems likely to be as divided as it was over the Iraq war in 2002/2003.

A conclusion paper on the meeting will be published later this year by ECFR.


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