The European Commission negotiates the free trade agreement on behalf of all EU member states. The EU`s Department of Commerce regularly informs and consults with Member States and the European Parliament on the progress of the negotiations. The EU has also concluded free trade agreements with its two main ASEAN trading partners. While guaranteeing duty-free trade with Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines would bring considerable economic benefits, the EU is very concerned about a free trade agreement with the ASEAN economic bloc. Leading business experts such as Julien Chaisse, professor of commercial law at the University of China in Hong Kong, say that critical issues include those that regulate non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and geographical indication protection (GI), which guarantees the authenticity of products that bear the name of a certain geographical origin and which, because of these origins, , possess qualities or reputation. In March 1980, a cooperation agreement between the European Community and asean countries was signed at the second EC-ASEAN ministerial meeting in Kuala Lumpur. This agreement paved the way for closer economic and trade relations between the two sides. This framework agreement sets targets for trade, economic and development cooperation. It aims to promote trade, investment and business between the two regions.
 Relations between ASEAN and the EU were marked by disputes in the 1990s. Human rights were a subject of controversy. East Timor and Burma were other points of disagreement that were resolved by becoming bilateral issues between Indonesia and Portugal and Burma and the EU, which removed them from any discussion between ASEAN and the EU. With East Timor`s independence, this has no longer weighed on ASEAN-EU relations.  The EU presented Indonesia with the following text proposals as a basis for discussion. These texts represent only the EU`s initial legislative proposals on the issues of the EU-Indonesia trade agreement, and the EU reserves the right to make further changes to the text by amending, supplementing or removing it at any time. For explanatory purposes, proposals for texts are published, accompanied by brief fact sheets on the various topics. The conclusion of the EU`s ongoing trade agreements with other ASEAN countries, such as Indonesia, could take longer than expected, with several investment and trade problems to be resolved. The EU`s concerns have made the bilateral route the only viable option. The problems in Cambodia and Myanmar mean that ASEAN cannot be the vehicle for duty-free trade with Southeast Asian nations. The EU is the largest investor in the ASEAN region, with almost a third of all foreign direct investment (FDI).
It is also the bloc`s second-largest trading partner, with a total of $265 billion in 2018. A trade agreement between the regions would have a profound impact on FDI flows and the volume of ASEAN exports. The European Union is considering a bilateral agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On May 4, 2007, the two sides agreed to begin negotiations. EU procedures require all ASEAN countries to sign a partnership agreement with a commitment to human rights as a precondition for the free trade agreement. Indonesia has already completed its APC with the EU, Singapore and Thailand are at an advanced stage of negotiations and Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei will soon begin. The Philippine government said early on that it expected problems when negotiating a CPA, given that the agreement appears to require the signatory state to join the International Criminal Court. The EU-ASEAN free trade agreement must be a comprehensive agreement.