Through the launching of ASEM, the EU sought to strengthen interregional cooperation and dialogue with East Asia on economic, political and cultural pillars. This paper aims to explore the driving forces of the EU's interregional approach towards East Asia and shed some light on the importance of ASEM in a European perspective. We argue that, firstly, EU seeks to enhance its interregional relation with emerging Asia in order to protect and advance Europe's commercial interests. European business has been given a privileged role to influence the ASEM process for ensuring market access to the dynamic Asian markets. Secondly, the EU seeks to set a normative agenda through the ASEM to promote the human rights and democracy in the Asian region. Exporting European values and norms to its Asian counterparts will not only strengthen Europe's profile as a normative power, but will also further expand its influence as a global actor. Thirdly, the EU tends to enhance its interregional relation with emerging Asia to foster a multipolar world order, countering unilateralism of Washington and future hegemonic power, and to maintain and establish an effective multilateral governance system.
'Europe can only play a leading role on the world stage if it is able to offer a robust political proposal for a more effective and democratic international architecture.'
-Romano ProdiEuropean Foreign Affairs Review