Public, Elite and Media Perceptions of the EU in Asia Pacific Region: a comparative study
Countries in Focus
Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand
EU-Asia-Pacific interconnections and influences have grown significantly over the last decades. Given the Asia-Pacific’s economic, political, cultural, and historical ties to Europe, it seems natural to ask how both sub-regions – Asia and Pacific -- perceive the EU. What do individuals know about the EU? How does the EU ‘stack up’ against other regions and countries in the world? How much “connectivity” is there between these nations and Europe? And what issues do the four nations see as important in relation to the EU?
Considering the ‘Asian’ angle in the dialogue (represented in this study by South Korea and Thailand), the EU’s relations with principal and emerging partners in Asia have traditionally concentrated on trade and, recently, on human rights dialogue, as well as programmes on economic, commercial and development cooperation. In recent years, security and political cooperation have contributed to a broader agenda, involving new opportunities for diplomatic manoeuvre. A key aspect of the EU’s strategy towards Asia has been to strengthen further the mutual awareness between Europe and Asia and to reduce persisting stereotypes. What is needed is more than analyses of trade figures, tourist numbers, policy issues, common stances or areas of discord. Public opinion and media production in particular, have received almost no attention due to the conventional emphasis on the activities of political and business elites.
Considering the ‘Pacific’ perspective of the interaction between the two regions, the EU plays a central economic role for two leaders of Oceania -- Australia and New Zealand. For both countries, the EU has a dominant role in trade relations, being one of the largest and the most stable long-term partners. Yet apart from the demonstrable mercantile connection, the EU, and in particular, Great Britain, are prominently woven into Australia’s and New Zealand’s social fabric. This historical connection has served as a larger gateway into Europe, with EU countries prime tourist destinations for Antipodean travellers. Moreover, both Australia and New Zealand are home to many Europeans, particularly “transplanted” Brits.
Four case-studies in the Asia-Pacific – EU perceptions by Australians, New Zealanders, South Koreans and Thais – cover an important but under-studied topic – external perceptions of the European Union. The cases do so with comparative reference to countries that are both important but also have the virtue of not being merely the ‘usual suspects’. A range of topics, a diverse international team and a variety of methodologies employed add to the pluralism and strength of this research project.
|A 142,000 Euro grant for the period 2004/05 under the “Dialogue between peoples and cultures” initiative of the Directorate-General for Education and Culture, EU Commission, Jean Monnet Programme, budget line|
The project was launched in January 2004 by the National Centre for Research on Europe, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and supported by three other research centres: the Multidisciplinary Department of European Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand; the Contemporary Europe Research Centre, University of Melbourne, Australia, and the Graduate School of International Studies, South Korea.
The project was initiated through the four EU studies associations in the region — EUSANZ, EUSA-Thai, CESAA, and EUSA-Korea—all of whom are members of the world ECSA body.