This article assesses the cooperation between Western Europe and Southeast Asia in the field of counter-terrorism. Counter-terrorism cooperation has been initiated by European Union (EU) since 2003 up until the time of writing. In addition to the large number of Europeans who became victims in the Bali bombings tragedy in 2002, the EU had been driven to cooperate with Southeast Asian states through ASEAN and ASEAN-centered forums by the need to prevent the danger of terrorism in the international waters of Southeast Asia such as the Malacca Strait. The cooperation between the two regions is explained in this article within the framework of ASEAN and European Union cooperation and is dominated by dialogues on strengthening law enforcement, justice and intelligence institutions. The first finding of this article is that the European Union and ASEAN counter-terrorism cooperation always takes advantage of the pre-existing institutional framework, rather than creating a new institutional mechanism. Institutions such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, the ASEAN Europe Meeting, the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLEC), and the Our Eyes Initiative (OEI) – the latter being the most recent ASEAN-based institutional platform undertaken by the EU – have an important role in facilitating EU and ASEAN cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism. Thus, the main strategy of counter-terrorism cooperation pursued by the European Union is to use and strengthen multilateral institutions that have been formed by ASEAN countries, rather than imposing a new institution.
The second finding is that the cooperation between ASEAN and the European Union does not touch on the need for capacity-building in deradicalization. This article uses the Plan of Action documents between the European Union and ASEAN established for the periods of 2007-2012, 2013-2017 and 2018-2022 as references to find out the scope of cooperation and various documents from open sources to explain the five areas of cooperation, namely intelligence, law enforcement, justice, borders and transport, and financing of terrorism. None of these Plans of Actions and their supporting documents mention the need to cooperate on deradicalization. While both Europe and Southeast Asia are plagued by the perceived and real danger of violent extremism, the absence of deradicalization program in their counter-terrorism cooperation agenda suggests a need from both sides to avoid ideological and domestic political matters as part of the cooperation agenda.
The article concludes that counter-terrorism cooperation between Europe and Southeast Asia has not gone beyond workshops and joint seminars on terrorism-related issues. There has been no legally-binding agreements on either any of the five policy issues discussed in the article. Therefore, the EU has not managed to externalize its security and law and justice governance to Southeast Asia. Nevertheless, there is a mutual need between Europe and Southeast Asia to strengthen their cooperation as Southeast Asia needs moral guidance for further institutional development and Western Europe needs to maintain relevance as an extra-regional partner to Southeast Asia.
This paper discusses the main question of why Europe and Southeast Asia maintain a continuity of counter-terrorism cooperation even though from 2003 to 2018 the collaboration has not moved from joint workshops and seminars on counter-terrorism issues towards more practical forms of cooperation. Secondly, this article aims to categorize the forms of cooperation on counter-terrorism that has taken place within the period under study.
The European Union’s policy in the field of counter-terrorism is based on its awareness that no member country can guarantee its security from terrorism through unilateral efforts, instead the EU must conduct the policy of counter-terrorism in coordinated fashion. In other words, external and internal efforts in the field of counter-terrorism must be conducted in a symmetrically shaped fashion. Therefore, for the European Union, counter-terrorism is carried out both inside and outside the EU border. Nevertheless, even within the EU, counter-terrorism is still very much limited within the confines of national policies of member states.
Transnational characters of terrorism activities have made cooperation between the European Union and third countries or partner countries outside the European Union and international organizations a matter of obligation (Ferreira-Pereira and Martins 2012). In addition to seeking dialogue, the European Union has signed a series of joint counter-terrorism efforts, beginning with the EU-ASEAN Joint Declaration to Combat Terrorism in 2003. Following this joint declaration were three Plan of Action (PoA) documents that consecutively outline the joint policy measures for 2007-2012, 2013-2017, and 2018-2022. It based on these three PoA documents that this article explores the policy measures in the joint counter-terrorism between the EU and ASEAN.
This theoretical framework structures the rest of the paper in terms of how inter-regional cooperation in counter-terrorism becomes possible. Why would inter-regional cooperation in counter-terrorism be considered as something critical? This article takes intra-regional security cooperation to be more critical than inter-regional cooperation. First, intra-regional cooperation on security matters that are transnational in nature such as terrorism, when conducted effectively, has a more direct impact in preventing terrorism compared to inter-regional cooperation through joint policy-measures that strengthens the regional as well as national boundaries. Secondly, inter-regional cooperation is only possible to take place when there is no enmity between member states of the respective regions. Existing history or ongoing alliances between member-states across regions for example, may well smoothen the way for the institutionalization of inter-regional cooperation. Thirdly, the deepening of inter-regional cooperation is achievable when there is a symmetry between regional governances over issues in question. The failure to achieve symmetric inter-regional governances, however, may not spell a failure to the entire effort of inter-regional cooperation as inter-regional cooperation in security matters at any rate will fulfill the need for confidence-building across regions.
A functionalist approach would argue that such a cooperation is driven by the self-interest of member-states to work together with member-states of other regions of the world to establish a more robust regional response to terrorism. As functionalist thinker David Mitrany (1996) propounds, integration – the collaboration between two international entities for common interests – takes place as member states institutionalize cooperation to meet needs as they arise. This approach might well be relevant to Southeast Asia’s context as the region lags behind Europe in terms of counter-terrorism cooperation and so an inter-regional cooperation might well provide a much-needed input of knowledge and capacity-building in counter-terrorism. However, a question arises: does inter-regional cooperation in counter-terrorism actually make the response to terrorism more effective? Does inter-regional cooperation on counter-terrorism actually provide a solution considering that each of the regions value intra as well as inter regional cooperation differently? It is argued here that as member-states consider intra-regional cooperation to be an important objective to achieved and institutionalized further, they will also consider inter-regional cooperation as important. Furthermore, inter-regional cooperation is a result of the meeting of interests of the two regions; in other words, a region’s member-states prefer a cooperation with another region that would further their interests without compromising the principles that they hold dear. In other words, inter-regional cooperation cannot sacrifice existing national and regional interests and values. Given the limited objectives that inter-regional cooperation can possibly achieve, one may infer that from functionalist point of view, inter-regional cooperation has diplomatic of confidence-building value rather than a specific objective such as reducing the rate of terrorist attacks.
Another explanation for the establishment of inter-regional cooperation for a subject such as counter-terrorism is threat perception. Securitization theory suggests a particular policy-measure may have been resulted by a drive to undertake an unusual or extraordinary measure to respond an emerging threat. The argument of this approach is that if something is perceived as a security threat then it will be treated as such, but in different social and temporal contexts it could be perceived and treated differently. The choice of measures that are available at the repertoire of an actor in responding threats is shaped by the actor’s shared knowledge, myth, language, or practice in relation to the problem at hand.
When discussing state’s response to terrorism, securitization theory particularly highlights the importance of 9/11 as a watershed event, after which terrorism has been talked about and treated as a much more serious and imminent threat to security than it is in reality. In this respect, both Europe and Southeast Asia have particular threat perceptions towards terrorism that drives to establish inter-regional cooperation. Securitization and its extraordinary follow-up measure, however, assumes a consolidated governing entity that is capable of perceiving something as threat to its existence as an entity and considering the security needs in responding to it. This is applicable for Europe where a governing entity called European Union Council has been around to make decision on behalf of all member states. The same cannot be true for Southeast Asia where ASEAN’s decision-making body is incapable for making decision that member-states are obliged to adopt. For Europe, the threat of terrorism that arises in the wake of Daesh threatens the region’s humanitarian principle to respect differences of identities that reside in Europe, including migrants.
Therefore, EU’s response to terrorism in the wake of Daesh was to strengthen its regional boundaries and establish the EU as a manager of cooperation in counter-terrorism with the extra-regional entities. The EU strived to mitigate the conflict that has taken place between the wave of radicalization and the rise of far-right nationalists. The shared memory of this history leads the EU to transform its counter-terrorism policy from a traditionally internal, policing matter to a rapidly escalating external, foreign policy matter because blaming Europe’s migrants for terrorism goes against the EU’s core values of openness and inclusion. The solution or response to social interpretations of terrorism becomes a drive to re-assert European norms and quell the nationalist backlash through a kind of displacement strategy, seeking to turn the public’s attention away from internal causes to external threats.
Member-states of ASEAN were driven by 9/11 to re-frame acts of terrorism, especially that of Islamist in nature – from an issue of transnational crime to that of terrorism. ASEAN countries need legitimacy and potential capacity building and forums that can provide their unbiased feedbacks for effective and rights-based counter-terrorism without interfering in the actual policy-making in counter-terrorism. For members of ASEAN, it is of upmost importance for them to maintain non-interference and independence in formulating their counter-terrorism policies. For ASEAN, EU’s prioritization of counter-terrorism is beneficial as long as it helps member states empowering their capability to prevent attacks without having to lose independence in policy formulation.
EU’s motivation to externalize its counter-terrorism policy is based on the assumption that by strengthening the capability of third countries to deal with terrorism before terrorists reach the EU border, European internal security can be better maintained. In this regard, the extra-regional cooperation for counter-terrorism from the European Union is driven by the importance of building external governance, namely transferring EU’s rules and policies to third countries and international organizations. Therefore, EU accomplishes security not through the use of deterrence and alliances, but transfer of governance. However, Externalization or transfer of rules and norms in counter-terrorism cooperation cannot be done in a hierarchical manner. Even in the European Union, counter-terrorism arrangements carried out under Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) cannot be done hierarchically; JHA only has a coordinating role because security policies are still seen as the national domain of member countries. The absence of a hierarchy does not mean there is no collaboration.
Theoretically, cooperation between regions can take place without any actor or institution responsible for coordination. This is also called trans-governmental network. There are three types of trans-governmental networks. The first is information network, a network designed to disseminate ideas and knowledge relevant to policy makers and the need for identifying best practices. Second, networks that facilitate implementation of rules and norms, which focus on promoting collaboration between institutions to facilitate the implementation of existing rules and norms. This usually occurs through capacity building and technical assistance efforts. Third is a network that conducts regulations, which have the strongest impact on partner countries because this network produced mandates to partner countries’ legislature to ratify the agreed upon rules and standards in a particular policy field under terms of cooperation. We can see from this typology that information network represents a mode with the weakest power to externalize internal policies to partner countries outside the region (third countries). On the other hand, network regulation is the strongest mode for externalizing internal policies. All of these networks are formally equal, non-hierarchical, and voluntary.
Europe and Southeast Asia shared a similar conception of non-traditional security (NTS) in which terrorism is part of its issues. For example, ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2018-2022 stipulated the plans for cooperation between ASEAN and European Union to combat terrorism under the heading of “combat terrorism, transnational crimes, address other non-traditional security (NTS) issues. Non-traditional security issues comprise of security issues that are usually posed by non-state actors and requires responses that are beyond mere use of force; non-traditional security is associated with the provision of security through use of force, justice reform, development of human resources and infrastructure. There are two reasons why terrorism is categorized as part of NTS agenda in Europe-Southeast Asia counter-terrorism cooperation. First, for both Europe and Southeast Asia NTS represents the security concept that perceives insecurities and risks as stemming from social, economic and justice matters; such security conceptualization fits with Southeast Asia’s preference for national and regional resilience and Europe’s preference for security cooperation instead of alliance-building. Secondly, Europe and Southeast Asia both need a low-key rhetorical framing of force projection which also taps into sensitive security areas and hence, which the NTS concept provided.
By placing terrorism under the rubric of NTS, ASEAN and the EU conducted counter-terrorism not just for the purpose of tackling the issue but also to expand their interaction along political and security parameters. The employment of NTS by the EU and its member states is meant to facilitate closer engagement with ASEAN as there is greater reliance on extra-European markets; on the other hand. On the other hand, heightened regional tensions in the Asia-Pacific and enhanced regulatory community-building processes are seeing Southeast Asian countries interested in attracting external partners on political matters of the region. Because of the need to centralize diplomacy with the presence of the use of force as capacity-building, confidence building and deterrence, ASEAN and EU’s counter-terrorism cooperation utilized the multilateral fora that have so far facilitated ASEAN and extra-regional powers to discuss pertinent security issues such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministerial Meeting Plus (ADMMC); such arrangement underlines the pertinence of European promotion of multilateralism at the international level.
The final part of this conceptual framework deals with the term counter-terrorism. Van Dongen categorizes counter-terrorism into four aspects of policy-measures: prevention, pursuit, protection and emergency response. Every aspect bears its own policy-measures and objectives. Emergency response aspect includes measures conducted by first responders and recuperation of the victims. First responders are needed to work effectively to prevent high numbers of casualty. More importantly, measures in the response category are conducted to ensure that victims of terrorist attacks get the proper mental and physical rehabilitation they need.
Protection aspect is often forgotten from the consideration of terrorism. The objective of protection is to make the terrorists think twice or even multiple times before conducting attacks or propaganda in a particular society. Secondly, another purpose of protection is to provide neutralizers of impacts of attack and/or propaganda that eventually takes place. Included under this aspect is protection of public transport, government offices, essential public facilities, embassies, but more importantly is protection of access to information and public discourses from threats of fake news and disintegrating propaganda.
Pursuit is the second aspect counter-terrorism that is often mistakenly perceived as the main aspect. Pursuit is composed of measures that deal with the terrorist network’s capability to inflict pain, injury and death to the civilians. Categorized within this aspect are providing deterrence through criminalization and the use of force, interception of acts of terrorism, targeted killing on key figures of the terrorist network, closing terrorists’ access to funds or countering terrorist-financing, and equipping security and law-enforcement institutions with special powers. The objective of pursuit aspect of counter-terrorism is to neutralize the infrastructure (funding, organization membership and leadership, propaganda, and all other means of sustaining terrorist activities) of terrorist network
Prevention is composed of measures that deal with the root-causes of terrorism including extremist narratives, deficiencies in state-society relations that hamper the alleviation of grievances and distrust towards the government, disengaged and/or deradicalized former combatants living among the society, etc. Therefore, included in this category of counter-terrorism policy are counter-narratives or alternative narratives for battel of ideas with agent-provocateurs that nurture distrust towards the nation-state, and justify indiscriminate violence for extremist purposes; tackling the difficulties to participate in legitimate social and political activities; interrupting radicalization processes; rehabilitation of former terrorists and combatants; and last but not least showing to the public that justice can be served through legitimate means. The ultimate objective of the prevention aspect is to degrade the morale of the terrorist network.
Intra-Regional Cooperation: Comparing The EU and ASEAN
The EU’s counter-terrorism Czar was established in the wake of the Madrid terrorist attacks in March 2004, called the EU Counter-Terrorism Council. The CTC is responsible directly to the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, instead of the Justice of Home Affairs under which criminal justice-oriented approach of European counter-terrorism is generally formulated; such placement indicates the role of extra-regional security cooperation that the CTC was designed to undertake. The character of CTC’s relations with member states of the EU is consultative, instead of determinative. Its main function is to audit the member states’ compliance to the EU’s Counter-terrorism Action Plan. It was expected at the time of the creation of the CTC that the unit would take action in three main areas: (1) to present proposals aimed at better organising and streamlining the work of the EU Council Secretariat relating to the fight against terrorism; (2) to prepare proposals for strengthening coordination between the different configurations of the Councils of Ministers and their preparatory bodies; and (3) to maintain regular contacts with the member states, so as to enhance coordination between EU level- and national actions. Over the years, the EU CTC has assumed the following functions: (1) coordinating the counter-terrorism work of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (including a multitude of working groups and working parties); (2) maintaining an overview of the relevant EU instruments in this area (3) ensuring effective follow-up of Council decisions; (4) monitoring the implementation of the EU Counter-terrorism Strategy, including making reports to the Council; (5) fostering better communication between the EU and third countries; (6) ensuring that the EU plays an active role in the fight against terrorism as a whole (House of Lords European Union Committee, 2011).
An arguably even more important role of the EU CTC has been to cajole the member states towards the timely implementation of EU-level counterterrorism agreements and initiatives. The ability of the EU CTC to do so in practice is, nevertheless, severely circumscribed by the fact that it cannot coerce national governments into taking action, has no independent budget, cannot propose legislation, nor can it chair meetings of Justice, Interior or Foreign ministers to set the EU counter-terrorism agenda. With a small office, one can hardly expect a high level of coordination in the complex area of counter-terrorism, which is crowded with diverse EU and non-EU structures and agencies.
Related to the function of establishing cooperation on counter-terrorism with extra-regional states, the CTC has no authority to represent the EU as legal entity since there is no specific legislation for the body. The EU CTC fulfils two types of functions that are pertinent to the external dimension of the EU counter-terrorism policy, namely (1) fostering better communication between the EU and third countries, and (2) ensuring that the EU plays an active role in the fight against terrorism as a whole. With regard to the first function, the CTC has been the face of the EU in the presentation of its counter-terrorism policy to the outside world on a growing number of occasions. In addition, the EU CTC has established itself as a key point of contact for interactions between the EU and third states on issues pertaining to terrorism. Concerning the second function, it can be noted that the EU CTC has been very active in fostering political dialogue on counter-terrorism issues across the world and promoting various practical and technical initiatives. It is true that the CTC does not have the power to make agreements or to initiate projects in third countries. However, as it is expected that it will improve counter- terrorism cooperation with third states and that it will ensure that the EU plays an active role in the fight against terrorism, it has the ability to undertake a broad range of activities. In terms of practical actions undertaken by the EU CTC in 2011, for example, CTC held discussions on counter-terrorism with Russia and India, whilst being also involved in Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) and in a major international UN conference in Riyadh. This strongly indicates that the EU CTC is becoming an increasingly important voice in EU counter-terrorism activities on the international stage. Therefore, while practical counter-terrorism cooperation with some of these third countries may still be limited, it is evident that their authorities do recognise the importance of the EU CTC. This recognition by and interaction with third states is an important part of the CTC’s role in EU counter-terrorism.
ASEAN’s inter-regional cooperation in counter-terrorism is also a post-9/11 phenomenon. Before 9/11 terrorism was treated as transnational crime as stipulated in the 1997 Declaration on Transnational Crime which arguably underscored the collective commitment of ASEAN member states to co-operate in their efforts against transnational criminal activity, it nonetheless adhered to the ‘ASEAN Way’ of decision-making by consensus and the reliance on non- binding rules. The treatment of terrorism as a subset of transnational crime – or, from a conceptual perspective, a criminal justice approach rather than military response to terrorism – at the regional level persisted until the end of the 1990s with the adoption of two addenda to the 1997 Declaration on Transnational Crime: namely, the Manila Declaration on the Prevention and Control of Transnational Crime; and the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime. However, despite their collective acknowledgement of terrorism as a transnational phenomenon and problem, little concrete progress was made until the game-changing impact of the 9/11 events brought terrorism to the forefront of national and regional security agendas.
The counter-terrorism legal instruments adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (‘ASEAN’) can be largely characterised as ‘soft law’, whose purpose has been to provide an overarching framework through which the respective and varied counter-terrorism policies of the ASEAN member states could be coordinated, as well as to secure region-wide endorsement. Central to this overarching framework is the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism (‘ACCT’). The ACCT achieved full ratification only in 2013 – six years after it was signed – although it came into force in 2011 after the sixth ASEAN member state had ratified it. However, the challenges that have been confronting ASEAN are due to the ambivalence on the part of its member states towards rigorous counter-terrorism measures because of domestic political reasons, as much as the legal and political constraints upon ASEAN. National counter-terrorism efforts in each country are enmeshed with their own political agenda of national harmony and combating dissidents. As a consequence, there is necessarily a challenge to regional initiatives since there is an absence of harmonisation of national counter-terrorism measures.
While the EU CTC has a limited scope of mandate to establish cooperation with the third state, Southeast Asia’s institution for external relations in counter-terrorism cooperation is more diffused among a number of ASEAN Plus frameworks which are not decision-making bodies. ASEAN has utilized ASEAN Political and Security Community, ASEAN Regional Forum, ASEAN Defense Ministerial Meeting to foster counter-terrorism cooperation with extra-regional powers, including the EU. Therefore, ASEAN’s external cooperation in counter-terrorism is marked by forums instead of decision-making bodies. ASEAN’s relatively slow pace to adopt a regional treaty on counter-terrorism stands in marked contrast to other regions such as Africa, the Americas, Europe, South Asia, the Arab League, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Islamic countries, whose respective treaties were adopted prior to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Milestones of EU-ASEAN Counter-Terrorism Cooperation
Counter-terrorism cooperation between Europe and Southeast Asia is a post-9/11 phenomenon. The late 1990s and early 2000s have been a missed opportunity for EU member states to become involved in any non-traditional security cooperation at both the official and scholarly levels with Asia directly. In January 2003, the ASEAN and EU member states agreed that future co-operation ‘should focus on non-traditional security issues, establishing channels of communication between the ASEAN Secretariat and relevant EU counterparts as well as environmental and cultural cooperation’. The modal emphasis of such cooperation was on flexibility and practicality, de-sensitising the normative contexts of the agents and thus, portraying NTS as a rhetorical framework for conducting pragmatic and issue- oriented cooperation.
The first formal agreement between the EU and ASEAN in the field of counter-terrorism was the Joint Declaration to Combat Terrorism which was issued a few months after the 2003 Bali Bombings tragedy on 12 October 2002. The European Union was encouraged to initiate this Joint Declaration by the possibility of a terrorist attack in the Malacca Strait, the main trade routes between Europe and Asia. In the Joint Declaration, the EU and ASEAN perceive terrorism as an inter-regional joint security issue that requires an increase in the volume of regional cooperation. The contents of the declaration are non-binding and very general, and it contains statements of intention to uphold collaboration between law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and the support of the European Union to Southeast Asia’s counter-terrorism policy measures. The definition of terrorism adopted in this declaration is the one formulated by the United Nations in the UN Security Council Resolution 1373. Therefore, it acknowledges the centrality of the UN in international counter-terrorism cooperation: ‘We acknowledge that the fight against terrorism must be dealt with in accordance with international obligations, the UN Charter and general norms of international law, including respect for human rights and humanitarian law ‘.
In the same year after the Joint Declaration, the EU issued the first ASEAN strategy paper entitled “A new partnership with Southeast Asia”, which advocated the deepening of EU relations with Southeast Asia. Six priority strategies presented in the document: 1) EU support for regional stability and Southeast Asian counterterrorism policies; 2) Human rights, democracy and good governance; 3) poverty reduction; 4) strengthening economic relations; 5) mainstreaming the role of Justice and Home Affairs; 6) intensification of dialogue and cooperation in specific policy fields. This document also explicitly articulates “fight against terrorism” and mainstreaming Justice and Home Affairs as a strategic priority of the European Union in Southeast Asia.
EU counter-terrorism cooperation with countries outside the EU marks the EU’s strong desire to export their internal security governance and an increasingly strong awareness that the internal and external dimensions of EU security are inseparable, especially with the increasingly-transnational nature of terrorism where non-state actors across borders are involved in diverse activities that could result in domestic terrorist acts. These considerations appear in the EU document entitled ‘A Strategy for External Dimension of JHA: Global Freedom, Security and Justice’ published in 2005, which made the 2002 Bali bomb tragedy a special reference to encourage strengthening cooperation with Southeast Asia.
Inter-regional cooperation between ASEAN and the EU began to gain a stronger foothold after the 16th ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting in Nuremberg, Germany, on 15 March 2007, which produced the “Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership”. This declaration was soon followed by the issuance of the Plan of Action (PoA) for the enhancement of ASEAN-EU relations and cooperation between 2007-2012, which breaks down the aspects of cooperation plan in a comprehensive manner. The 2007-2012 PoA details the EU’s strategic priorities in five inter-regional cooperation areas, namely political and security cooperation, socio-cultural cooperation, economic cooperation, cooperation in the fields of energy security and climate change/ environment and development cooperation. Counter-terrorism cooperation falls under the sub-heading of “traditional and non-traditional issues” within political and security cooperation. This shows that the cooperation plan has not yet reached a detailed commitment for particular achievements. At the same time, terrorism was sitting at the intersection between geopolitical (state-centric) and non-traditional (non-state centric) security issue. The 2007-2012 PoA puts counter-terrorism cooperation together with other forms of transnational crime such as trafficking in persons, drug trafficking, small arms and weapons, and money laundering and terrorist-financing.
The 2007-2012 PoA was released against the background of ASEAN’s initial process of formally establishing itself as a community of nations. The ASEAN Community that consists of three pillars (ASEAN Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community) was formally launched in 2003, and it was only in 2007 that ASEAN issued ASEAN Charter. At the same time, the year 2007 was also marked by the process of ASEAN-China Free Trade Area formation. It is against these events that the 2007-2012 PoA also articulated the EU’s desire to support ASEAN integration through the realization of ASEAN Community establishment by 2015. As such, the wordings of the 2007-2012 PoA show the effort of the EU to make sure that Southeast Asia’s regionalism is confined within limits of UN-approved frameworks and that the EU stays relevant as a partner of that regionalism-building.
The 2007-2012 PoA called for an exchange of experiences, information sharing, capacity building, and cooperation between government and academics; cooperation between with and between counter-terrorism institutions in Southeast Asia, including Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC), the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT) in Kuala Lumpur, and the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok to facilitate capacity building and links with international institutions. It also called for the EU to provide technical assistance, enhance information sharing, legislative framework and institutional capacity building to support the efforts to tackle terrorism crime, but also trafficking in persons, drug trafficking, sea piracy, arms smuggling, money laundering, cyber-crime, and international economic crime. Finally, it specifically mandated the EU to promote the development of detection, monitoring and reporting of illegal money transfers to combat terrorist-financing.
The joint police measures listed in the 2007-2012 PoA shows an ambitious cooperation agenda. Under the title of Political and Security Cooperation are 29 Joint policies and actions. Compared to other policy areas, security-related policies have the highest number of items, followed by a variety of joint actions in the field of economic cooperation. The 2013-2017 PoA also places the highest number of collaboration items in the political and security fields, which are as many as 22 items compared to other fields. Both the 2007-2012 and 2013-2017 PoA placed the EU-ASEAN counter-terrorism cooperation together with civilian crisis management, human rights and illegal drug trafficking issues. Concrete activities are listed in the annex of the PoA. For the 2007-2012 PoA, 10 activities are included in the Political and Security Cooperation category consisted of workshops, visits to European Union Institutions and joint seminars. Activities included in the list included among others anti-personnel landmines seminars and workshops on small arms and light weapons. However, none of the joint activities agreed upon in the 2007-2012 and 2013-2017 PoAs shows any policies that can be categorized as specifically as counter-terrorism cooperation.
The 2013-2017 PoA shows the EU’s reliance on institutions that have been developed by ASEAN to implement security cooperation. The ASEAN Regional Forum is seen by the European Union as a forum for security diplomacy as well as capacity-building. The portion of Technical Assistance takes more space in the 2013-2017 PoA, along with the support of the European Union for newly formed ASEAN institutions during that period, namely the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC), the South East Asia Regional Center for Counter-Terrorism (SEARCCT) in Kuala Lumpur and the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok. Another prominent program of the PoA 2013-2017 is the Comprehensive Border Management program that aims to improve border management in ASEAN member countries. This is in line with the main achievements set out in the document “New partnership with Southeast Asia” which emphasizes support for judicial capacity building and support for border management and money laundering. This document also stipulates a plan for policy dialogue on counter-terrorism with the aim of “… exploring the establishment of a regular policy dialogue on counter terrorism.” The 2013-2017 PoA appointed the mechanisms within the ASEAN-EU Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) and the ASEAN-EU Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), with the assistance of the ASEAN Secretariat, in reviewing the progress of its implementation. Progress report is then submitted to the annual Post Ministerial Conference (PMC) +1 session with the EU, and the biennial ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting; while necessary funding of activities should be explored the ASEAN Committee of Permanent Representatives, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the EU.
The 2013-2017 PoA is accompanied with a more detailed document of cooperation called the 2014-2017 ASEAN Regional Forum Workplan for Counter-terrorism and Transnational Crime (ARF Work Plan on CTTC). This document stipulates more specific policy measures aimed at mitigating terrorists’ capability to exploit connectivity networks and information freedom for extremist propaganda. ARF Work Plan on CTTC 2015-2017 focused on the six priority areas, namely: (i) illicit drugs; (ii) chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN); (iii) security of and in the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs); (iv) counter radicalization; (v) terrorist financing; and (vi) trafficking in persons. Activities that the ARF supported for member-states to do include Voluntary Training Courses, Capacity-Building Workshops, ARF Pilot Projects, and Multilateral Tabletop or Field Exercises.
It can be inferred from the 2007-2012 and 2013-2017 PoA’s that the approach that the EU has undertaken in conducting cooperation in counter-terrorism with ASEAN is aimed more at establishing stronger diplomatic relations rather than actually solving matters pertinent to terrorism in Southeast Asia, such as the existence of extremist groups and terrorist-financing. These matters require more interventionist approach that may hamper the building of trust with nations of Southeast Asia that value non-interference principle. The language used in the two PoAs is non-binding, facilitating deep political dialogue rather than the final resolution of certain issues. In addition, it also appears that there is no permanently institutionalized platform for dialogue between the EU and ASEAN to discuss counter-terrorism.
The most recent development in ASEAN-EU counter-terrorism cooperation is represented by the 2018-2022 Plan of Action which replaces the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action to strengthen the ASEAN-EU Enhanced Partnership (2013-2017) and is adopted at the PMC+1 with the EU. Unlike the previous two PoA’s that place counter-terrorism cooperation under security and political or non-traditional issue subheadings, the 2018-2022 PoA stipulated explicitly a sub-heading of cooperation to combat terrorism. The 2018-2022 PoA has introduce the notion of violent extremism, instead of simply terrorism as it encourages the EU and ASEAN to work together and exchange best practices in the implementation of the ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism and the ASEAN Comprehensive Plan of Action on Counter-Terrorism in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism; the PoA also raises concern over the entanglement between terrorism and trafficking of women and children as this situation takes place over the course of the migration and return of sympathisers of ISIS or Daesh and their family members. It also promotes interaction between national law enforcement agencies in ASEAN Member States and EUROPOL, aimed at strengthening the cooperation among them by providing mutual support as well as facilitating the exchange of best practices and expertise in the areas of mutually agreed interests
The next section of this article explores specific aspects of the existing cooperation that has been undertaken between the EU and ASEAN and particular member-states. The aspects of counter-terrorism cooperation between the EU and ASEAN member-states are decided based on the categorization of cooperation items in the three PoAs, including law-enforcement, intelligence, justice, borders and transportation security, mitigation of terrorism-financing.
Collaboration between the police and law enforcement agencies has repeatedly emerged in the strategic documents of the EU-ASEAN cooperation analyzed in this article. This includes cooperation between institutions in the European Union and ASEAN, namely Europol and Aseanapol, as well as providing support for law enforcement agencies in ASEAN. For cooperation between the European Union and third countries, Europol has always acted as a leading institution even though the it does not have a broadly legitimate counter-terrorism role in the European Union. Europol has the authority to establish cooperation with third countries or international organizations that can facilitate international cooperation in the field of organized crime or counter-terrorism. However, EU-ASEAN cooperation in the law-enforcement sector lacks the regulating network that has been established by legal agreements. There are no strategic or operational agreements that facilitate the exchange of information, both information that is personal, non-personal and technical. The three existing PoAs have stated the importance of encouraging the development of relations between ASEAN and EU law enforcement agencies to share experiences and best practices in fighting transnational and counterterrorism crimes and support efforts to strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation between regional counter-terrorism institutions. However, because the institutions involved in counter-terrorism cooperation are ASEANAPOL and this institution mostly only holds discussion forums for police leaders in ASEAN member countries, then it is short of budget and staff. with the Europol counterterrorism unit (CTTF / counter-terrorism task force).
The European Union has so far cooperated with Indonesia in the provision of capacity-building in the field of police and counter-terrorism by assisting in the establishment of JCLEC, the Institute that provides police education courses on organized crime, money laundering and terrorism. The European Union has funded the establishment of courses and syllabus, teacher education programs and networking activities from the European Union to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. Similar forms of cooperation between the EU and ASEAN countries such as Thailand were not considered due to human rights violations committed by local security institutions. In addition, EU member states provide experts to conduct counter-terrorism training seminars and workshops for SEARCCT. For example, France conducted a workshop in SEARCCT on the relationship between cybercrime and terrorism, money laundering and counteracting terrorism funding; England runs aviation security seminars; Italy runs a seminar on falsifying documents and illegal immigration.
In the field of justice, Eurojust is a legal entity that can establish cooperation with third countries and international organizations. This cooperation agreement designed a judicial assistance for extradition requests between the EU and countries outside the EU. Eurojust has signed a number of agreements that facilitate the delivery of liaison magistrates from outside EU countries to the Eurojust headquarters in The Hague and vice versa. But the Eurojust did not establish any agreement with ASEAN and its member countries. The cause is significant differences between EU standards to establish cooperation with third countries and the justice system that is generally adopted by Southeast Asian countries. First, there are no data protection regulations in Southeast Asian countries. The stringent data protection regulations held by the EU have made direct cooperation with Southeast Asian countries almost impossible. Second, a number of Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia have not signed the International Convention against Torture, which is a prerequisite for establishing a judicial collaboration with the European Union. Third, a number of countries such as Singapore and Malaysia (until 2011) have issued counter-terrorism legislation that allows the detention of terror suspects indefinitely. This legislation contradicts the rights-based approach of counter-terrorism carried out by the European Union. Fourth, ASEAN member countries still apply the death penalty, except Cambodia and Philippines, for cases that may involve terrorists, such as drug trafficking or treason. Indonesia even applied the death penalty explicitly for terrorism. Therefore, so far the EU has only established contact points with Thailand and Singapore.
The intelligence sector was not mentioned at all in the three PoAs, and all the ASEAN-EU strategic documents did not mention intelligence cooperation. In addition, there is no EU country strategy for ASEAN member countries that refers to intelligence cooperation. The only form of European-Southeast Asian cooperation that mentions intelligence cooperation was between the EU and Indonesia in 2009 which stated that it was necessary to intensify the exchange of information on terrorist groups and their support networks in accordance with international and national law. This also does not have an indication of inter-agency cooperation.
Borders and Transport
Cooperation in the field of borders and transportation is a form of cooperation that is explicitly mentioned in three PoAs between ASEAN and EU. Information sharing and use of technology relevant to border management and document security are forms of policy that are deemed relevant in the ASEAN PoA and the European Union. To achieve this, ASEAN and the European Union implemented the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Border Management Program until 2017. This program provides capacity building by the EU in terms of border management techniques to develop an efficient border management system among ASEAN member countries. In addition, the EU also funded a pilot project implemented by Interpol in Vietnam and Cambodia. This 2009-2012 pilot project provides modern equipment for effective border management at 16 border points between the two countries. This tool provides the ability to access the Interpol database and has the latest information, thereby facilitating more intensive international cooperation. There is no other collaboration that is wider than a pilot project like this has not yet begun.
Financing of Terrorism
Similar to the cooperation of border management that took place via Interpol, cooperation in handling terrorist activity funding between the EU and ASEAN also took place through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF’s main mandate since its inception in 1989 is tackling money laundering, but since 9/11 has played an important role in establishing international standards for effective handling of money laundering. But more than that, the FATF also monitors compliance with this standard by issuing annual reports on countries that fail to comply with international regulations for handling money laundering built by FATF. Countries called NCCTs (Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories) are countries that are considered non-cooperative in the global effort to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. They are categorized into two, namely countries that refuse to comply with FATF standards, also called High-Risk Non-Cooperative States, and those that are cooperative with FATF but still have a number of deficiencies in national regulations in the field of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF). A number of ASEAN countries fall into the second category, including Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam. Meanwhile, the Philippines, Brunei and Cambodia have been categorized as having progress in implementing international regulations but have not fully complied with AML and CTF regulations in Southeast Asia. So far, only Indonesia and the Philippines have carried out collaborative projects with the European Union in overcoming funding for terrorism activities.
Additionally, and in line with a wider move away from seeking region- to-region agreements with ASEAN (see the decision to abandon negotiations over a EU–ASEAN FTA in 2009, after which the EU has launched bilateral FTA negotiations with ASEAN countries), the EU has introduced anti-terrorism clauses in all Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) it has signed with ASEAN countries (with Indonesia in 2009, and with the Philippines and Vietnam in 2010).10 The counter-terrorism clauses directly refer to important aspects of the EU’s policy preferences such as close cooperation with Interpol, sharing of best practices and joint train- ings. They furthermore include a human rights clause, which directly make reference to the protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism. In conclusion, while the EU has not engaged in more robust forms of externalization through for example regulating networks based in legally binding agreements with ASEAN, the paper illustrates that the EU has nonetheless been able to establish cooperation modes that allow for the transfer of policy preferences through horizontal networks, where the EU capitalizes because of its specific skills and experiences. These are likely to increase incrementally, as the signing of PCA’s with key ASEAN players has strengthened the EU’s reciprocal influence on ASEAN countries.
To conclude this article, the EU and ASEAN counter-terrorism cooperation has not led to significant changes to the counter-terrorism policies of ASEAN member countries. The European Union is unable to influence changes in security policies, especially counter-terrorism in Southeast Asian countries. Because cooperation between the EU and ASEAN has more dialogue and technical assistance, and using existing ASEAN institutions, including the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the results of dialogue do not materialize policies Together that is tangible. However, these dialogues are confidence-building forums that not only establish relations between the European Union and ASEAN, but also with member countries from ASEM and ARF namely Australia, India, Japan and China.
What explains the lack of legal-binding measures in the cooperation between Europe and Southeast Asia is the lack of institutionalization of regional counter-terrorism in both regions, albeit at different levels of relative backwardness. In the EU, the CTC has no authority representing the EU for cooperative measures with third countries, and counter-terrorism within the EU is still largely the domain of national governments, which renders the CTC a consultative rather than a coordinating body. Meanwhile, ASEAN does not even have a single body dedicated solely for counter-terrorism either for consultative or coordinating capacity.
In regard to the categorization of counter-terrorism measures, the scope of cooperation between Southeast Asia and Europe has so far largely fallen into just two categories: policy-making, pursuit and protection. In terms of policy-making, the presence of the EU helps ASEAN member-states to accelerate their harmonization of policy-measures between member-states of ASEAN. Anti-terrorism and money laundering laws produced by Southeast Asian states, notably Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines were largely written as these states consult with their European counter-parts on the required capacity in counter-terrorism. The PoAs that have been produced since 2007 are aimed at containing terrorism. These PoAs provided a conducive environment for intra and inter-regional cooperation on the pursuit of terrorist suspects. The cooperation between the EU and particular members of ASEAN also strengthens the capacity of criminal justice in conducting pursuit and prosecution of terrorist suspects and the intelligence community in gathering, analyzing and sharing intelligence. Finally, in the scope of protection, the EU assisted ASEAN member-states to prioritize the security of digital information network and national borders from being exploited by terrorists.
De-radicalization has made no appearance whatsoever in the components of counter-terrorism cooperation between Europe and Southeast Asia. This suggests that Europe wish to steer clear of the highly domestic nature of problem in both of the regions. The EU understands that the problem of radicalism has intensified within its own boundaries due to stronger responses of the Muslim community towards rising nationalist sentiments; while radicalism is also highly domestic in nature for Southeast Asian states. The EU wish to focus on technical, legal and policy-relevant aspects of counter-terrorism rather than ideological and social reintegration issues in its counter-terrorism cooperation initiatives with Southeast Asia, and the latter is more than welcome to such an attitude.
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 Natasha Hamilton-Hart, “War and Other Insecurities in East Asia: What the Security Studies Field Does and Does Not Tell Us,” Pacific Review 22, no. 1 (2009): 49–71, https://doi.org/10.1080/09512740802651102.
 Carlyle a Thayer, “The Five Power Defence Arrangements: The Quiet Achiever,” Security Challenges 27, no. 1 (2007): 79–96, http://www.securitychallenges.org.au/ArticlePDFs/vol3no1Thayer.pdf (Accessed 5 June 2015).
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 Stacie E. Goddard and Daniel H. Nexon, “Paradigm Lost? Reassessing Theory of International Politics,” European Journal of International Relations 11, no. 1 (2005): 9–61, https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066105050136.
 H. Stritzel, “Towards a Theory of Securitization: Copenhagen and Beyond,” European Journal of International Relations 13, no. 3 (September 1, 2007): 357–83, https://doi.org/10.1177/1354066107080128.
 Barry Buzan and Lene Hansen, The Evolution of International Security Studies (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009).
 Scott D. Watson, “‘Framing’ the Copenhagen School: Integrating the Literature on Threat Construction,” Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2012, https://doi.org/10.1177/0305829811425889.
 Mai’a K.Davis Cross, “Counter-Terrorism in the EU’s External Relations,” Journal of European Integration 39, no. 5 (2017): 609–24, https://doi.org/10.1080/07036337.2017.1327524.
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 Rizal Sukma, “The ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC): Opportunities and Constraints for the R2P in Southeast Asia,” The Pacific Review 25, no. 1 (2012): 135–52, https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2011.632975.
 Javier Argomaniz, Oldrich Bures, and Christian Kaunert, “A Decade of EU Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence: A Critical Assessment,” Intelligence and National Security 30, no. 2–3 (2015): 191–206, https://doi.org/10.1080/02684527.2014.988445.
 Erik Brattberg and Mark Rhinard, “The EU as a Global Counter-Terrorism Actor in the Making,” European Security 21, no. 4 (2012): 557–77, https://doi.org/10.1080/09662839.2012.688809.
 F. Ragazzi and J. Walmsley, The Return of Foreign Fighters to EU Soil, 2018, https://doi.org/10.2861/205.
 Felix Heiduk, “In It Together Yet Worlds Apart ? EU – ASEAN Counter-Terrorism Cooperation After the Bali Bombings,” Journal of European Integration 36, no. 7 (2014): 697–713, https://doi.org/10.1080/07036337.2014.935361.
 Stéphanie Martel, “From Ambiguity to Contestation: Discourse(s) of Non-Traditional Security in the ASEAN Community,” The Pacific Review 0, no. 0 (2016): 1–17, https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2016.1264462.
 Naila Maier-Knapp, “The Non-Traditional Security Concept and the EU-ASEAN Relationship Against the Backdrop of China’s Rise,” The Pacific Review 2748, no. June (2015): 20, https://doi.org/10.1080/09512748.2015.1038579.
 Teun van Dongen, “Mapping Counterterrorism: A Categorisation of Policies and the Promise of Empirically Based, Systematic Comparisons,” Critical Studies on Terrorism 3, no. 2 (2010): 227–41, https://doi.org/10.1080/17539150903306170.
 Alex Mackenzie et al., “The European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator and the External Dimension of the European Union Counter-Terrorism Policy,” Perspectives on European Politics and Society 14, no. 3 (2013): 325–38, https://doi.org/10.1080/15705854.2013.817810.
 Christian Kaunert, “The External Dimension of EU Counter-Terrorism Relations: Competences, Interests, and Institutions,” Terrorism and Political Violence 22, no. 1 (December 22, 2009): 41–61, https://doi.org/10.1080/09546550903409551.
 Jörg Monar, “EU Internal Security Governance: The Case of Counter-Terrorism,” European Security 23, no. 2 (2014): 195–209, https://doi.org/10.1080/09662839.2013.856308.
 Ali Abdullah Wibisono, “Lessons To Be Learned From Indonesia’s Military Involvement in Counter- Terrorism Efforts,” Thinking ASEAN May, no. 35 (2018).
 Marguerite Borelli, “ASEAN Counter – Terrorism Weaknesses,” International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research 9, no. 9 (2017): 14–20.
 See Seng Tan and Hitoshi Nasu, “ASEAN and the Development of Counter-Terrorism Law and Policy in Southeast Asia,” UNSW Law Journal 39, no. 3 (2016): 299–300.
 Ralf Emmers, “Comprehensive Security and Resilience in Southeast Asia: ASEAN’s Approach to Terrorism,” The Pacific Review 22, no. 2 (June 3, 2009): 159–77, https://doi.org/10.1080/09512740902815300.
 Rohan Gunaratna, “ASEAN ’ s Greatest Counter-Terrorism Challenge : The Shift from ‘ Need to Know ’ to Smart to Share,” no. July 2018 (2017).
 Heiduk, “In It Together Yet Worlds Apart ? EU – ASEAN Counter-Terrorism Cooperation After the Bali Bombings.”
 Alistair D. B. Cook et al., “Rountable on Challenges To Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief in the Asia Pacific” (Singapore, 2015).
 European Union, “Joint Declaration on Co-Operation to Combat Terrorism,” Pub. L. No. 5811/03 (Presse 19), 03 7 (2003).
 United Nations Security Council, “SC Res 1373,” Pub. L. No. S/RES/1373 (2001), 1373 28 (2001).
 Frank Mattheis and Uwe Wunderlich, “Regional Actorness and Interregional Relations: ASEAN, the EU and Mercosur,” Journal of European Integration 39, no. 6 (2017): 723–38, https://doi.org/10.1080/07036337.2017.1333503.
 Cross, “Counter-Terrorism in the EU’s External Relations.”
 ASEAN, “ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2013-2017” (2013).
 Tommy Koh, Rosario G Manalo, and Walter Woon, eds., The Making of the ASEAN Charter (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 2009), https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781107415324.004.
 ASEAN, ASEAN-EU Plan of Action 2013-2017.
 ASEAN Regional Forum, “ASEAN Regional Forum Work Plan for Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime” (2017).
 David Lowe, “Surveillance and International Terrorism Intelligence Exchange: Balancing the Interests of National Security and Individual Liberty,” Terrorism and Political Violence 28, no. 4 (2014): 1–21, https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2014.918880.
 Jeanne Pia Mifsud Bonnici, “Exploring the Non-Absolute Nature of the Right to Data Protection,” International Review of Law, Computers and Technology 28, no. 2 (2014): 131–43, https://doi.org/10.1080/13600869.2013.801590.
 Argomaniz, Bures, and Kaunert, “A Decade of EU Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence: A Critical Assessment.”
 Eu-asean Cooperation, “Blue Book 2018,” 2018.
 Ben Hayes, “Counter-Terrorism, ‘Policy Laundering,’ and the FATF: Legalizing Surveillance, Regulating Civil Society,” International Journal of Not-for-Profit Law, 2012, https://doi.org/10