This chapter provides a wide-ranging, theoretical, ‘grounding’ for many aspects of current EU-Asia interaction. It looks at the roles of ‘material interests’, ‘ideas’ and ‘institutions’, in the framework of EU-Asia collaboration in the 21st Century. What follows is derived from an examination of the ‘diversity’ and the ‘complexity’ of current East-West dialogue. The analysis in this section is further set against the background of the historical legacies, geo-politics, political institutions and foreign policy choices of Asia-Europe. The authors investigate both EU collective action across Asia, and the ‘projection’ of EU policies into the region, with reference to concepts drawn from classical political theory, such as Neo-liberalism, Institutional Theory and Neo-mercantilism. However, the chapter also embraces an in-depth examination of the place of ‘norms’ and ‘ideas’ in EU-Asia contacts. The authors offer some key conclusions as to the European Union’s functions as a policy-planner, a coherent dialogue partner and a ‘pro-active cosmopolitan’, across much of the Asian Continent.