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EU adopts strategy to connect Asia, Europe

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Staff Reporter
The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Wednesday adopted a joint communication that sets out the EU's vision for a new and comprehensive strat-egy to better connect Europe and Asia.
The joint communication builds on the European Union's own experience of enhancing connections between its member states, with and in other regions.
With sustainable, comprehensive and rules-based connectivity at its core, the communication will help to guide the EU's external action in this field and is a part of the implementation of its Global Strategy, said the EU in a statement.
"Connectivity is the way to the future. The more connected we are, the more opportunities we have - to find common political solutions and to bring economic prosperity to citizens," said High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini.
"Our approach is the European Union's way: to establish stronger networks and strengthen partnerships for sus-tainable connectivity, across all sectors and based on a respect for common rules. This is the European way to tackle challenges and take opportunities, to the benefit of people in Europe and in Asia as well."
Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen said they want to work with their Asian partners to improve connections between Europe and Asia, while bringing our values and approach in doing so.
Infrastructure networks that will be built should be coherent, interoperable, as well as financially and environ-mentally sustainable. Calls for tender should be open and transparent to promote good governance and a level playing field. It is an approach that works, and one that we see a demand for among Asian countries, in our Eastern neighborhood, the Western Balkans and beyond."
The Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said the EU and Asia are important partners on sustainable development and delivering the UN 2030 Agenda.
"Our development cooperation is an essential element of our broader engagement and partnership with Asia, not least in promoting sustainable connectivity. We want to further strengthen our partnership and focus even more on providing technical assistance, improving regulatory environments and creating incentives to drive forward and scale-up much needed investments."
Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said transport infrastructure is the lifeblood of EU-Asia connections, carrying both people and goods between the continents, on the wings of digitalization and decarbonization.
"Europe is sharing and engaging through one of the most developed transport networks and infrastructure fi-nancing programs in the world: the trans-European transport network. Connectivity matters!"
The EU will combine a principled approach to connectivity and recognition that Asia encompasses different regions, which are home to very diverse countries in terms of economic models and level of development, with concrete action based on three strands.
These are creating transport links, energy and digital networks and human connections; offering connectivity partnerships to countries in Asia and organizations and promoting sustainable finance through utilizing diverse financial tools.
With Asia requiring an estimated €1.3 trillion per year for infrastructure investment, there are significant opportunities for EU companies, provided that robust legal frameworks are in place.
The EU will look to combine financial sources from international financial institutions, multilateral develop-ment banks and the private sector to ensure sustainable domestic and international finance for connectivity, while ensuring transparency and a level playing field for businesses.