Today, Europe and the Southeast Asian (SEA) countries face similar economic and societal challenges. Both regions share the desire to push forward the boundaries of ICT RDI activities to respond to these challenges.
The policy framework of the European Commission places a strong emphasis on promoting international cooperation activities. Setting up efficient and dynamic international cooperation actions in science and technology has risen to the top of the EU agenda over the past years. This international dimension is considered an important component of the development of the European Research Area (ERA) and thus of the EU innovation capacity.
Information and Communication Technologies is one of the main components of European international cooperation actions. The European Commission has recently undertaken particular efforts to pave the way for strengthening ICT RDI strategic partnerships. ICT is the largest single research area within the EU's 7th Framework Programme for research and development, accounting for 18% of the total Community budget.
A progressive engagement of EU R&D centres in collaboration issues with third countries encouraged and supported by the ICT research work programme is bringing new opportunities. This will provide, in the near future, the attainment of unexpected results and a strong leadership in the ICT sector regarding topics such as high-performance computing (e.g. cloud computing and grid technology), networks and services (Future Internet), security and surveillance systems, e-Infrastructure, etc.
As for the SEA countries, ASEAN Member States have focused considerable efforts in strengthening their capabilities to engage in ICT research. ICT is an important area in the KRABI initiative 2010 and a target topic of the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015 under which ASEAN countries support the development of a number of research centers specializing in ICT.
The wish for closer ICT collaboration between the ASEAN and EU countries was reaffirmed by the 6th ASEAN - EU Telecommunications and Information Technology Senior Officials Meeting held on 13 November 2012, at Cebu, Philippines. The attendance of the event by European high-level officials illustrated the strong interest of the EU in supporting ICT RDI collaboration with SEA countries.
Scientific collaboration between SEA and EU countries has soared already, especially since the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Partnership signed on the occasion of the first EU-ASEAN Summit in 2007. The declaration called for the deepening of the level of scientific cooperation between EU and ASEAN. Two years later, in 2009, the European Commission nominated a permanent Counselor in Information Society and Media for Southeast Asia. The ASEAN secretariat, DG Infso’s counterpart in Southeast Asia supports the ICT EU-ASEAN cooperation at the highest level.
A new focus on the EU-ASEAN scientific collaboration was placed in 2012, declared as ASEAN-EU Year of Science, Technology and Innovation 2012. New data and endorsement of further scientific collaboration between ten countries comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the 27 member states of the EU were presented at the closing event in Brussels in December 2012.
The number of publications jointly produced by ASEAN and the EU has more than doubled over the last decade. The participation of ASEAN countries in the European framework programmes is also increasing. There are currently more than 190 participants from ASEAN countries in FP7, and they receive almost €24 million of funding. Scientific and technological cooperation of the SEA countries with EU partners holds strong potential in various thematic areas, in particular in ICT, food, agriculture, biotechnology, and health.