Dr Yeo Lay Hwee
15 September 2016 (Thursday)
Dr Yeo Lay Hwee is a member of the International Academic Advisory Board at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia. On 15 September 2016, she delivered a Top Hat Lecture jointly organised by the Department of International Relations and Tallinn Law School entitled “The Asia-Pacific as a Strategic Region for the European Union”.
Following the US “pivot” or rebalancing towards Asia, the EU in 2012 also announced its own “EU in Asia Year” and stepped up engagements in the Asia-Pacific. Since then, there have been an unprecedented series of high level meetings and visits. Whether this “burst” of attention and energy towards Asia can be sustained is still far from certain. What is clear is that the Asia-Pacific region is of great geopolitical and geo-economic significance, and developments in the region will increasingly have an impact on the EU and its member states.
Dr Yeo began her lecture by tracing the developments of EU-Asia relations since the first Asia strategy was put forth by the Commission in 1994 (Towards a New Asia Strategy, COM (94)314). She discussed the success and failures of the EU in its engagement with Asia, and argued that the EU has a clear interest in playing a full-fledged role in and with Asia. The stakes are high, and the EU needs to rethink its role and strategy for the Asia-Pacific. This process of rethink and re-strategising has to be supported by sound research and more dialogue amongst the different stakeholders.