The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) promotes greater mutual understanding between Asia and Europe through intellectual, cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Through ASEF, civil society concerns are included as a vital component of deliberations of the ASEM. ASEF was established in February 1997 by the participating governments and organizations of ASEM and has since implemented over 650 projects, engaging over 17,000 direct participants as well as reaching out to a much wider audience in Asia and Europe.
In March 1996, the leaders of 25 European and Asian countries, together with the European Commission, convened in Bangkok, Thailand, for the inaugural Asia-Europe Meeting(ASEM). This historic summit paved the way for the establishment of the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) one year later in 1997. The agreement by the ASEM leaders to found ASEF can be found in the Ministerial Declaration of the 1st ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting (FMM1).
ASEF is the only permanently established institution of ASEM and is funded by voluntary contributions from its member governments and shares the financing of its projects with its civil society partners across Asia and Europe.