Events & News


EU and ASEAN integration and the grassroots: Parallels and Divergences

His Excellency Dr Richard O’Brien, Irish Ambassador to Singapore & Dr Christopher Roberts, RSIS

30 Jul 2008


    This seminar aims to compare and contrast integration processes in both the EU and ASEAN with reference to therelation to and perceived importance by the “grassroots.”

    Ambassador O’Brien’s contribution on “EU Integration –Expectations and Responsibilities” will address some of thchallenges the European integration process faces as it enters a period of more demanding public debate on itdirection and a more exacting internal and external advancement of its values and interests in an increasinglglobalised international environment.

    Dr. Roberts’ contribution, ‘Integration in Asia: The Challenge of Moving beyond the Divergent Interests of the Elite’, waddress the dynamics of integration in Southeast Asia. While both ASEAN and the EU have been depicted as elitdriven projects, the key difference with regard to ASEAN is that a ‘convergence of interests’ between the political elithas been primarily limited to economic cooperation and integration. A greater compatibility between the politicasystems, norms and values of the region will have to emerge for grassroots ‘socio-cultural’ integration for the procesof deepening the level of integration in Asia.

    Ambassador O’Brien is currently Ambassador to Singapore from where he is also accredited to Brunei DarussalamIndonesia, the Philippines and Timor Leste. His previous posting was in Egypt from where he was also appointed tJordan, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan. Earlier from 1995 to 2002, he served as Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand – his first Ambassadorship was to Poland in 1990 and a year later to Lithuania and Latvia. He began hicareer in the Irish Foreign Service in 1972 and served in both London and Washington before being appointeSpokesman at the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1985
    Christopher Roberts is a Post Doctoral Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) iSingapore. He recently completed a PhD (with a dissertation on ‘ASEAN’s Security Community Project: Challengeand Opportunities in the Pursuit of Comprehensive Integration’) through the University of New South Wales at thAustralian Defence Force Academy. His publications have ranged from integration and cooperation in ASEAN to morspecific issues such as poor governance in Myanmar. Most recently, two book proposals, on ‘ASEAN’s MyanmaCrisis’ and on ‘ASEAN Regionalism,’ have been approved for publication by ISEAS and Routledge

    The seminar will be chaired by A/Prof Barnard E Turner, Senior Fellow, EU Centre and Academic Convenor, EuropeaStudies Programme, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, NUS. The EU Centre in Singapore was jointly established iApril 2008 by NUS and NTU with support from the European Commission. The Centre aims to help develop a base oEU studies, increase awareness of the roles of EU institutions, policies and their impact, and foster betteunderstanding of the role of the EU in the globaland regional arena through outreach activities, publications and research.