Common challenges ahead of the ASEM Summit

ASEM Summit (the Asia-Europe Meeting) taking place in Milan on 16 and 17 October

Today, representatives from progressive parties in Europe and Asia gathered to discuss common challenges ahead of the ASEM Summit (the Asia-Europe Meeting) taking place in Milan on 16 and 17 October. They agreed on a statement focusing on inclusive growth and quality jobs, climate change and human rights.

‘ASEM, up until today, focused on economic recovery and trade liberalization rather than social protection and decent work’, says Agnes Jongerius, Member of the European Parliament from the Dutch Labour Party, ‘We need concrete policies to tackle unemployment and secure quality jobs. Youth unemployment, informal labor and economic migration are issues we are all dealing with. They should be prioritized during the ASEM Summit.’

One of the most pressing challenges faced by Asia in particular is climate change. The consequences of global warming have become painfully clear by the havoc wreaked by typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. ‘Haiyan cost numerous lives and resorted in widespread destruction of infrastructure and livelihoods. We need concerted efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.’ said Ibarra Guitierrez III, Congress Representative from AKBAYAN. This was seconded by Neena Gill, Member of European Parliament of UK Labor, who said that ‘the EU has to support Asia in its pursuit of renewable energy resources and increase efforts for disaster risk reduction.’

The third common demand focused on human rights including social, economic and cultural rights and freedoms. ‘Human rights and freedoms are at the core of our democratic progressive agenda’, states Herta Daubler Gmelin, chair of the SPD Human Rights Commission in Germany. ‘States that ignore these principles need to be held accountable.’

The participants of the meeting also worked out a strategy to maximize the impact of the statement ahead of the ASEM Summit. ‘Our message shouldn’t only be part of the ASEM Summit conclusions, it should also be translated into concrete actions’, said Steven Sim, Member of Parliament of the Malaysian Democratic Action Party, ‘this statement will form the basis of our future cooperation.’

The meeting was organized by the Global Progressive Forum, a common initiative of the Party of European Socialists and Democrats and the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament,  and SOCDEM Asia,  a network of political parties, pre-party formations, and progressive politicians, scholars and activists in the region.

MEPs Norbert NEUSER and Neena GILL actively participated in the meeting.