March 25, 2023

ASEAN can be regarded as the EU of the Southeast. What remains the stark difference is that EU nations share a lot of things in common; like currency, visa liberalizations, and even shared sovereignty. ASEAN on the other hand is only an organization between the states with nothing in common, except in trade.

Travelling across Europe (except Britain) is far more liberalized and easier than in the Southeast. The members of ASEAN all have different languages, currencies, visa regulations and norms. Due to the uniform currency system in the EU, the effects of financial crises are felt less. This is not the case with the ASEAN. Even though it was able to recover from the 2008 recession fast, it severely degraded investment opportunities and the scope to improve its institutions.

For ASEAN to be at par with the EU, it must consider improving its Secretariat. The ASEAN Secretariat is severely under-staffed even with its policy of inducing new members through the process of Enlargement. EU, on the other hand, has a well-maintained Secretariat with enough staff members to carry out the functions smoothly. It also creates employment opportunities in Europe.

Secondly, ASEAN has kept itself completely aloof from the political discrepancies that are happening in the Southeast. It has failed to prevent major governmental and military power excesses. It maintained complete silence when the Myanmar military decided to cleanse the Rohingyas out of the country. The EU is active when it comes to condemning any serious conflict. EU has strongly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine despite Ukraine not being a member of the EU.

The ASEAN has a lot to catch up on and improve to become as influential as the EU. The EU also has a strong legislature that legislates laws; ASEAN does not have a strong authoritative body of administration.

ASEAN should slowly overcome its challenges to remain united, committed and more authoritative in the Southeast Asian context.

ASEAN (Association Of Southeast Asian Nations)-

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