On October 7, as part of the Transatlantic Interests in Asia Pacific in 2025 conference, the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security in conjunction with the Swedish Foreign Ministry, hosted Helena Sangeland, deputy director general and head of the Department for Asia and the Pacific Region of the Swedish Foreign Ministry for a roundtable discussion on Europe’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. In her remarks, Ms. Sangeland noted that although the United States and Europe have “different approaches in the region…[we] have shared interests…[and] we can make those approaches work together.”
Declaring the European Union a “Superpartner” of China, she proclaimed that the European Union’s continued engagement of China and the greater Asia Pacific region is central to the continued prosperity of the West; noting that the “European Union’s trade with Asia has surpassed the European Union’s trade with NAFTA.” Ms. Sangeland also stated that there are a lot of areas such as greater economic cooperation and supporting the continued development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations where greater coordination between the United States and the European Union would help both engage with the region more effectively. However, she revealed that the perceptions of the European Union as a “weak” economic partner will continue to pose a challenge for the European Union’s engagement in the region. Speaking about Asia’s future, she saw North Korea’s unpredictability and the fallout from the current crisis in the Iraq and Syria as major problems confronting Asia.
Responding to Ms. Sangeland’s comments, Moderator and Atlantic Council Vice President, Fran Burwell, wondered whether greater economic partnership between the United States, the European Union, and China could lead to a larger trilateral partnership. Barry Pavel, Atlantic Council vice president and Scowcroft Center director, also added that Asia’s rise will eventually change and challenge transatlantic international values and norms. In addition, he stated that “Asia is not just China. Our focus must be on other countries such as India and how India can become a partner.”