The Pursuit of a Better Partnership Between Indonesia and the European Union

The amount of aid shared by one party to another does not always guarantee a good relationship. Such a saying is evident from the worsening ties between Indonesia and the European Union (EU), which was revealed at the meeting between representatives of Parahyangan Center for European Studies (PACES) and Indonesian Community for European Studies (ICES) on February 21, 2024.

Understanding the ongoing predicament, Dr. Yulius Purwadi Hermawan (Mas Pur) along with Ms. Cristine Tjong as Head and Deputy Head of PACES joined by ICES ’s President Mr. Muhadi Sugiono. believes that the Indonesian government could mend the soured relationship  by avoiding the use of misleading public diplomacy that may put EU as unfriendly partner in the eye of publics as well as developing a more positive, concrete and accurate foreign policy towards the EU. 

From the discussion, both parties share the views  that the underlying obstacle for the Indonesian government to formulate accurate policies lie within the gap in the knowledge production – what the EU knows about Indonesia and how they obtain such information, vice versa. As such,  Indonesian policymakers must be able to narrow, if not close, the gap in knowledge production regarding the EU’s stance towards Indonesia. As a form of solution, PACES and ICES  could collaborate with state institutions such as Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI) and Badan Strategi Kebijakan Luar Negeri (BSKLN) to hold various projects such as joint research and monthly discussions to increase Indonesian knowledge about Europe.

Mas Pur also suggested seeking the possibility for neutral cooperation as another possible way by conducting discussions with the EU, omitting more sensitive matters such as the issue of palm oil and nickel as it was revealed that both themes took part in  the deteriorating relationship between Indonesia and the EU. Although the prospect is hopeful, Mas Pur emphasized that this particular approach does not need to be carried out should it become unachieveable.