Fifty-two Head of States and Governments from European and Asian countries just left Milan after exchanging views on global economic, political and social developments and proposing a way forward for further cooperation. Being the widest Eurasian forum, the bloc roughly reunites 60% of global population, trade and GDP, and represents a major platform to identify future areas of functional cooperation.
Leaders in Milan agreed, inter alia, to enhance the increasing rate of trade and investment flows (proceeding with the implementation of Doha Round); to cooperate in order to ensure food, water and energy security; and to promote the development of green technologies. The initiatives already stressed out by Finance Ministers, such as the “automatic exchange of information for tax purposes”, or the identification of “financial sector supervision” to strengthen both stability and cooperation, provide good examples for the first case. “Physical and digital connectivity” were identified as primary enablers for common growth, also aiming to sustain entrepreneurship and job creation across the two regions.
Most important, the Summit was also a major opportunity to gather the wide array of countries into security talks (including Russia, the EU, China, Vietnam and Philippines). Non-traditional threats, such as human trafficking, illegal trade in drugs and weapons, terrorism, radicalization, remains the bulk of Eurasian cooperation, yet, leaders agreed on the need to cooperate in “ensuring maritime security and safety of navigation” and commonly re-stated “the need for restraint; the non-use of the threat of force, and the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes”. As Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea raises concerns and EU relations with Russia make little progress, the exchange between ASEM Heads of State and Government was nonetheless a meaningful chance to reaffirm common principles and improve the climate for the eventual resolution of bilateral divergences.