European Union – ASEAN relations and the First Air Transport Cooperation

The recent increase in regional cooperation in the economic field shows that globalization has succeeded in eroding the boundaries between countries around the world.

The recent increase in regional cooperation in the economic field shows that globalization has succeeded in eroding the boundaries between countries around the world. This regional cooperation then moves beyond further boundaries outside their own regional area, so that cooperation between international organizations cannot be stopped any longer.

ASEAN is a regional organization that has been established since 1967, consisting of 10 countries in Southeast Asia. This organization is a breath of fresh air for countries in the region to unite their strengths together because of their historical similarities, namely that both countries were once colonized by other countries. ASEAN was founded to achieve common goals, one of which is to increase and encourage economic growth in the region. For this reason, ASEAN consistently strives to establish good cooperation between member countries and is open to engaging in collaboration with other regional or international organizations.

On the one hand, the European Union exists as a regional organization that has long been a reference for many other regional organizations. The success and solidarity that have long been proven by the European Union have succeeded in making the European Union an organization with high integrity. Similar to ASEAN, the European Union is certainly very open to every opportunity for cooperation with other countries and regional organizations.

Seeing how these two regional organizations both have the same goal of expanding the scope of cooperation beyond their respective regional borders, it is no longer surprising that many cooperation agreements have been ratified by the European Union and ASEAN. As is known, ASEAN is an important trading partner for the European Union, and vice versa.


The cooperative dialogue between the European Union and ASEAN has been going on since 1976, and since then, relations between the European Union and ASEAN have continued to develop rapidly, not only in the economic field, but also in various fields such as social culture, sustainable development, politics, and security.

Since the start of this cooperative relationship, both parties have certainly received several benefits in line with what they expected. Some of these benefits can be seen from increased investment, increased cooperative dialogue from year to year, and the exchange of knowledge and culture.


One of the real forms of increasing cooperative dialogue is evidenced by the ratification of the first air transportation agreement between the European Union and ASEAN. This collaboration is called the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA), which was ratified in October 2022. This first transportation collaboration is here to realize a wider scope of cooperation between the two regions and to continue to maintain the good relations that have been built for a long time.

ASEAN-EU CATA is expected to become a new platform to provide broader opportunities for the European Union and ASEAN to improve their air transport connectivity. Apart from that, ASEAN-EU CATA can also provide greater opportunities to share knowledge and technology in the field of air transportation in order to create better flight services in terms of safety and comfort for passengers.

ASEAN-EU CATA is also a new pawn for increasing state income through the tourism sector, considering that the comprehensive CATA agreement states that it will make things easier and more affordable for the people of the European Union and ASEAN who travel to countries in these two regions. Apart from that, by carrying out this collaboration, it is hoped that it will open wider job opportunities for both parties and increase investment.

For ASEAN itself, it is hoped that the ASEAN-EU CATA collaboration will provide a new, stronger image to countries around the world. The establishment of this first air transportation cooperation gives a new impression for ASEAN to prove to world countries that ASEAN is a partner that continues to move forward to create more cooperation with other countries in the future. ASEAN also wants to prove that even though its integration of regional organizations is not yet as superior as that of the European Union, this will not be an obstacle for ASEAN to emerge as a regional organization that is worthy of advancing as an influential actor and making a stronger impression in the future.

On the European Union side, the transportation cooperation agreed upon with ASEAN certainly provides new avenues and opportunities to collaborate with countries in the Asian region. This is certainly hoped for in order to broaden the influence that the European Union itself can spread amidst the fierce competition between China and the United States. The European Union certainly always strives to maintain its existence in the eyes of the world, despite the current turbulent competition between China and the United States.


Looking at the cooperation that has been established for decades between the European Union and ASEAN, when viewed from the perspective of international relations studies, the suitable theory for analyzing this case study is the theory of liberal institutionalism. This theory is based on the role of institutions and the norms adopted, and it looks at how the dependence between state and non-state actors then encourages the creation of cooperation.

The theory of liberal institutionalism has principles that are in line with the cooperation established by the European Union and ASEAN because the European Union and ASEAN exist as forums that accommodate cooperative dialogue, institutions that make rules and methods used to resolve disputes.

Apart from that, the dependence between the European Union and ASEAN has made both parties important trading partners for each other, which is marked by trade and investment cooperation, proving that the European Union and ASEAN are mutually dependent on each other in line with the principles of the concept of liberal institutionalism in cooperation. between these two areas.


In conclusion, the progress of increasingly close cooperative relations between the European Union and ASEAN can be seen through the cooperation agreement they jointly initiated, resulting in the world’s first air transportation cooperation initiated by two regional international organizations. It is hoped that in the future there will be more and more collaborations that will color the relations between the European Union and ASEAN, so that these two international organizations will again bring new ideas for other regional organizations to consider developing other forms of cooperation.

Nadira Nabila
Nadira Nabila
Nadira Nabila is a undergraduate student at the Andalas University major of International Relations. Issues related to the global economy, foreign policy and gender equality are interesting discussion focuses for further study.