Hamburg: Climate change, energy, closer trade ties and North Korea’s nuclear weapon’s programme will be high on the agenda at talks starting on 28 May among European Union and Asian foreign ministers.
Ministers from India, Pakistan and Mongolia will be attending the talks for the first time, along with new EU members Romania and Bulgaria.
The two-day talks come just before a Group of Eight summit in Germany and offers the meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an opportunity to push China, India and other Asian nations to commit to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
At a meeting last year in Helsinki, Finland, European and Asian leaders promised to set new carbon reduction goals that go beyond those set for 2012 under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol. However, they have set no firm targets, facing resistance from China and India.
With Asia’s energy demand soaring - pushing up oil prices - Europe is also eager to promote renewable energies and energy-efficient technologies.
The EU launched its regular Asia-Europe Meeting, or Asem, in 1996. Since then, the growth of India and China as major economic and political players alongside Japan has given new impetus to efforts by the 27-nation EU to boost ties with Asia and offer itself as an alternative Western partner to the United States.
The EU agreed last month to open negotiations on free-trade pacts with India, South Korea and the 10-nation ASEAN group. However, the move raised fears that Europe was altering its trade policy, downgrading its priority to reach a global trade deal through negotiations at the World Trade Organization, which remain stalled.