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Successful closure and evaluation of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI, 2011-2015)

August 11, 2015

The Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) was the first-ever policy dialogue facility between the two most integrated regions in the world, the European Union (EU) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). READI was designed to facilitate EU support to ASEAN’s ambitious integration agenda towards the establishment of an ASEAN Community and to support exchange of experiences, policies and good practices between the two organisations and their Member States. READI ran for four years (Sept. 2011 – Aug. 2015) and proved tremendously successful that two follow-up READI projects are in the making as this READI closes down!

READI started off supporting ASEAN action plans and EU-ASEAN dialogues in four policy areas: Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Energy, Science & Technology (S&T) and Disaster Management. During its lifetime it expanded its scope – thanks to READI’s promotional activities – to include Education, Climate Change, Capacity Building, Maritime Cooperation, Election Observation, and Human Rights, bringing the total number of READI components to 10. This wide range made READI unique among ASEAN’s dialogue partner initiatives in that it covered all three ASEAN Communities (Political-Security, Economic and Socio-Cultural), as well as unique among EU-ASEAN programmes in that the main focus was, for the first time, on the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

The READI Technical Assistance Team (TAT) was headed by Stefan Hell as Team Leader. Stefan Hell was in charge of READI’s general management and coordination and was supported by four Key Experts assigned to the initial four policy areas: Karine Valin for ICT, Thierry Lefèvre for Energy, Alexander Degelsegger for Science and Technology, and Philip Buckle for Disaster Management.

In order to ensure relevance of activities and results, READI regularly consulted ASEAN including concerned ASEAN secretariat (ASEC) divisions, ASEAN sectoral bodies and CPR, and the EU including relevant EC Directorate Generals and other EU institutions in Brussels as well as with all 9 EU delegations in the ASEAN region. Focal point for READI on the ASEAN side was the ASEAN Secretariat’s Strategic Planning and Coordination Division (SPCD), on the EU side the Operations Section of the EU Delegation to Indonesia, ASEAN and Brunei Darussalam. Both are located in Jakarta, Indonesia, allowing for quick and effective communication and coordination.

READI achieved several tangible outcomes during its implementation period. 11 action plans and agreements for ASEAN integration were supported through 72 experience exchanges between EU and ASEAN. 790 stakeholders participated in these EU-ASEAN events and benefitted from using knowledge from READI activities. See the READI

READI_Infographics_2011-2015

In the field of ICT, READI (represented by Karine Valin, READI/ICT Key Expert & a pool of Senior Short-Term Experts in specific thematic areas) supported – among other things – the launch and operation of the ASEAN Spectrum Policy Forum (ASPF) as an institutional mechanism to coordinate spectrum management across ASEAN (Success Story). This led to a number of agreements and recommendations to address opportu­nities and challenges in next generation networks. These covered regional spectrum management and transition to DTT, a common approach to the digital dividend and BWB, a coordinated regional strategy for the 2G band re-farming (800/900/1800MHz) and support for the introduction of an “.asean” top-level domain. READI also identified the need for a regional approach to broadband roll-out that would support connection of rural areas and under-privileged social groups. READI also established dialogue to review policy that would lead to decreased mobile data and voice roaming costs for ASEAN consumers.

“The READI/ICT Facility succeeded in achieving its main objectives effectively, efficiently and timely and delivered significant outcomes. The impact that has been achieved so far in Southeast Asia through this EU-funded activities is a testament to the fruitfulness of a true partnership between the ASEAN and the EU. Both sides embraced the benefits of such cooperation. We should certainly intensify this cooperation by exchanging lessons learned and by mobilising the European expertise to support the ASEAN efforts and I’m glad that the upcoming E-READI Facility will allow to keep the momentum on such important issues”. Karine Valin, READI Key Expert (KE) for ICT (2012-2015) and Project Director & Steering Board Member of Sigma Orionis, France – June 2015

READI’s greatest success is that it has stimulated demand far exceeding its own capabilities. By setting up flexible and efficient governance, management and communication structures, by building trust among key interlocutors from ASEAN and the EU, and by delivering consistently good results, READI has become the model for two new READI facilities: a targeted READI project designed exclusively to continue the work initiated in the area of Human Rights cooperation and a much larger general READI facility (E-READI, Enhanced READI) to carry on READI’s work across the board as well as in new policy areas. It took the collaborative effort of all the aforementioned individuals to achieve this outstanding success.

The READI website will continue to remain active in the coming years and provide detailed information, downloads and photographs on the over 70 READI activities.

“The start of the relations between EU and ASEAN dates back to 1972, but it is in the last few years that a step change has taken place with, inter alia, a very large number of high-level visits to the region and the launch of a number of EU-funded initiatives such as the very successful READI Facility. Last year’s EU-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (Brussels, 23 July 2014) welcomed the stepping up of EU-ASEAN relations and expressed the wish to upgrade them to a Strategic Partnership. In the field of ICT this was confirmed during the last ASEAN TELMIN/TELSOM 2015 Meetings (Bangkok, 21-22 January 2015). There is a new momentum in EU-ASEAN relations and both sides have an interest in sustaining it. Hence, among other initiatives, the upcoming launch of the Enhanced-READI (E-READI) Facility”.

“ASEAN is undoubtedly a very important partner for the EU. Over the past years ASEAN has made great strides in regional cooperation covering a number of areas including ICT. We have always regarded it as an honour and a privilege to be able to assist the ASEAN Secretariat and Member States in the ICT field and we will continue to regard it as such. READI and this unique form of cooperation reflects the close ties and complete trust between the ASEAN and the EU”.

“The READI/ICT Facility has been very instrumental in our effort to implement priority projects of the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015, namely, the development of transparent, coherent and harmonised ICT regulatory frameworks; in particular, towards improving broadband availability in the region through spectrum management and telecommunication policies”

“The READI initiative played a major role in facilitating the sharing of knowledge and the exchange of best practices between the ASEAN Member States and the European Union in a number of key ICT domains (namely: spectrum management, broadband deployment, and competition policy in the telecom sector) with the main aim of improving the lives of people in Southeast Asia. READI/ICT generated a general environment of cooperation between the ASEAN and the EU whereby they were able to share experience and expertise to support the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015 and the subsequent master plan. As a result, READI/ICT helped to launch the ASEAN Spectrum Policy Forum (ASPF), a matter made possible only by READI’s initiative. This main achievement has been built up since the initiation of the project and remains the most important READI/ICT achievement. The ASEAN Secretariat welcomes this extremely fruitful cooperation where both sides gain from the fruitful exchanges of knowledge and interesting discussions. We are looking forward to the next steps in continuing the cooperation.”

“Radio frequency spectrum is becoming an increasingly scarce resource for increased access to communications or ICTs. Telecommunication/ICT is not only facing increased demands for bandwidth, but also facing ever-increasing pressure from other users of the spectrum, who are exercising their rapidly growing requirements for larger spectrum bandwidths. Hence the roles of the government, regulators are the key enablers for an effective management of the radio spectrum. We very much appreciate READI support in facilitating exchange of knowledge and best practices”.

“Thanks to the READI instrument, the ASEAN Spectrum Policy Forum (ASPF) has been launched in 2011. We highly appreciate the ASEAN-EU Cooperation Programme in supporting the ASPF Forum. This Forum is an effective platform for ASEAN Spectrum management Experts to discuss and go ahead towards economy of scale for ASEAN through common views in spectrum management policies. We are continuing our best efforts to cooperate with EU to complete the 2015 blue print of ASPF”.

“ASPF, since its launch in 2012, has become an effective forum for ASEAN spectrum experts to discuss, share knowledge and exchange experiences in spectrum issues internally, as well as with European and industry experts. More importantly, ASFP has become an important platform for ASEAN members to coordinate their views on spectrum management issues. In addition, most of the ASPF meeting recommendations were endorsed by the ASEAN Subgroup on Spectrum Management (SMM) to which ASPF reports and served as basis for SSM’s proposals to be incorporated in ASEAN’s TELMIN Ministerial Statement on spectrum issue. We hope ASPF can be supported in the future so that the EU and ASEAN member states to continue the dialogue on relevant spectrum management issues”.

“The READI/ICT Facility succeeded in achieving its main objectives effectively, efficiently and timely and delivered significant outcomes. The impact that has been achieved so far in Southeast Asia through this EU-funded activities is a testament to the fruitfulness of a true partnership between the ASEAN and the EU. Both sides embraced the benefits of such cooperation. We should certainly intensify this cooperation by exchanging lessons learned and by mobilising the European expertise to support the ASEAN efforts and I’m glad that the upcoming E-READI Facility will allow to keep the momentum on such important issues”.

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