Between Scepticism and Hope

Critical perspectives from Asia on the European Union’s past, present, and future

Photo: IMAGO / Ulrich Roth

The next elections to the European Parliament are scheduled to take place across the 27 member-states between 6–9 June. Whether in terms of economic, security, or migration policy — the election will not only lay out Europe’s path for the next five years, but also be of global significance.

With that in mind, how do people view the EU from the outside? What expectations do left-wing parties and organizations have, what developments do they criticize and what would they expect from a progressive European policy? This new dossier takes a closer look at the debate in Asia, presenting perspectives on European politics and policy from China, Kazakhstan, India, and the Philippines.

It is widely known that the EU sees itself as a pioneer in democracy and human rights, as a generous donor of development aid, and as a force for peace. At the same time, it is evident this self-image does not align with perceptions outside of Europe, where it is primarily perceived as an economic power that pursues its own interests. How critically the Global South views the EU as a geopolitical player has become very clear since the beginning of the war in Gaza late last year.

Nevertheless, the EU is not only seen in a negative light. Europe is also associated with a functioning democracy and the rule of law, as well as economic success. The EU is seen as a model of regional integration, and, as the contributions presented here make clear, much hope is projected onto it. Our authors see potential for a fairer organization of trade relations, but also for increased sustainability and democracy. The contributions show how differently relations with the EU have developed — and what a progressive EU could accomplish in Asia.