In June 2015, the Storting established a permanent delegation to the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP). In November 2020, the delegation’s remit was extended to include the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA). This is a direct result of the Storting’s new status as permanent observer to AIPA, which was granted in September the same year.
A parliamentary forum, ASEP is linked to the intergovernmental dialogue that has been established between Europe and Asia to consider political, economic and cultural issues (the so-called ASEM partnership).
ASEM was founded by the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) along with China, Japan and Korea in 1996. Since that time, collaboration has expanded considerably and now encompasses 52 partner countries. Norway, together with Switzerland and Bangladesh, was granted membership in 2012. As a direct consequence, the Storting was invited to participate in ASEP, which comprises national parliamentarians from all of the ASEM nations and from the European Parliament.
The Storting formally became a member of ASEP at the 8th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership (ASEP8) meeting in Rome in October 2014.
ASEP membership is an important contributory factor to creating a solid platform for parliamentary contact with Asian countries and for observing developments in Asia. Of particular significance is the economic development in Asia and the growing influence it is expected to exert in global forums. The entire region is increasingly important to Norway, both in terms of trade and foreign policy. One example of this is the various free trade negotiations that are currently taking place between EFTA and the ASEAN countries. Europe and Asia take it in turns to host the ASEP meetings every other year.
AIPA is an interparliamentary assembly which comprises the national parliaments of the ten ASEAN member states in Southeast Asia and a number of other countries in Asia, the Pacific and Europe that have been given observer status. The Storting’s position as a permanent observer will add a parliamentary dimension to the government-level collaboration between Norway and ASEAN in the so-called sector dialogue.
As an observer, the Storting will be invited to AIPA’s general assemblies and to dialogue meetings with the ten ASEAN member states, both during and between general assemblies. This will help to reinforce interparliamentary relations with a region that is becoming increasingly important to Norway.
The delegation consists of three members and three substitute members.
The International Department is responsible for secretariat duties for the Storting’s ASEP/AIPA Delegation.