The ASEM process has been a major policy innovation to contribute towards a strong economic, political and cultural relationship between Europe and East Asia. The regular meetings of heads of states, which started in Bangkok in 1996, continued in London 1998 and which will be followed this year by the summit in Seoul have been very useful events to build bridges. Many other activities concerning economic, political and cultural affairs have also been organized and contributed towards an enhanced understanding of each other and presumably improved the quality of policies.

A period of about six years is rather short. This is even more so when the circumstances for the ASEM process are considered. The financial and economic crisis in some Asian countries influenced in a very substantial way the meeting in London. However, ASEM has set in motion numerous initiatives, has answered to many of the challenges facing Asia and Europe. The Seoul summit provides the opportunity to reflect on the process so far and the way ahead.

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has contributed towards the ASEM process throughout this period since the inauguration in 1996 in many ways. Conferences and workshops have been organized with trade unions from Asia and Europe, with scholars from both regions, with parliamentarians from selected Asian countries, with policy makers. This year FES has cooperated with Non-Governmental Organisations to reflect on their role in the ASEM- process, FES will co-organize a conference with international trade unions in Seoul. FES has joined hands with scholars from Asia and Europe to reflect on the expectations for the ASEM. And FES has cooperated with ASEF to organize a meeting in Singapore to reflect on ˇ°regions in transitionˇ±.

This brochure contains a thought-provoking interesting contribution from a German scholar who participated in a conference in Seoul in September 2000. The paper compares the APEC process with the ASEM process and outlines some of the challenges. At the conference in Seoul, the paper was considered to be an excellent contribution towards recognizing the key challenges of the way ahead. The Korea Cooperation Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung decided to publish the paper as monograph to enable a wider dissemination of Dr. Koellner's ideas and reflections.

Seoul, September 2000

Dr. Peter Mayer
Resident Director
Korea Cooperation Office