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EU & Indo-Pacific

  • 20 Apr 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, the European Union (EU) approved conclusions on a European Union strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

  • The renewed EU commitment to the Indo-Pacific will have a long-term focus and will be based on upholding democracy, human rights, the rule of law and respect for international law.
  • Indo-Pacific is a region spanning from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific island states.

Key Points

  • Need:
    • Intense geopolitical competition adding to increasing tensions on trade and supply chains as well as in technological, political and security areas.
    • Human rights are also being challenged. These developments increasingly threaten the stability and security of the region and beyond, directly impacting on the EU’s interests.
  • Aim:
    • To contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.
    • Promoting rules-based multilateralism, giving centrality to ASEAN (Association of SouthEast Asian Nations), a point also stressed by India.
  • Main Features of the Strategy:
    • Covid-19:
      • The EU will work together in order to mitigate the economic and human effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and work towards ensuring an inclusive and sustainable socio-economic recovery.
    • Free and Fair Trade:
      • The EU’s approach and engagement will look to foster a “rules-based international order, a level playing field, as well as an open and fair environment for trade and investment, reciprocity, the strengthening of resilience, tackling climate change and supporting connectivity with the EU.
      • On trade partnerships, the EU will aim to conclude free trade agreements with Australia, Indonesia and New Zealand and take further steps towards the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment with China.
      • It will also continue to explore deepening economic relations with India.
    • Security and Defence:
      • It will continue to develop partnerships in the areas of security and defence, including to address maritime security, malicious cyber activities, disinformation, emerging technologies, terrorism, and organised crime.
      • It has taken the decision to extend the geographic scope of its CRIMARIO (Critical Maritime Routes) II activities from the Indian Ocean into South and Southeast Asia with a view to contribute to safer sea lanes of communication with the EU.
        • CRIMARIO:
          • The EU Critical Maritime Route Wider Indian Ocean (CRIMARIO) project was launched in 2015 to improve maritime security and safety in the Wider Indian Ocean, with a particular focus on selected countries and archipelagos in East Africa, it aims to support countries in the region to enhance their Maritime Situational Awareness (MSA).
  • Role for India:
    • Increasing competition, power rivalry, unilateral actions challenging the multilateral order and international laws are some of the common concerns shared by India and Europe.
    • With an enhanced focus on their strategic relations and engagement with other like-minded regional players, India and EU can play a significant role in preserving an open, free, inclusive and rules based order in the Indo-pacific.
    • India’s recent engagement with European powers in Indo-Pacific:
      • India’s support for France’s membership of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
      • India’s backing for a larger European role in the Indo-Pacific. India has welcomed the interest of Germany and Netherlands in building a new geopolitical architecture in the Indo-Pacific.
    • Some of the crucial areas that India and EU can work together include joint efforts in capacity building against challenges like piracy, counter-terrorism etc and cooperation in enhancing interoperability and domain awareness, maritime technologies, blue economy etc.

Way Forward

  • There is a growing realisation of the need for a larger European role in the region, as the European strategic community has begun to acknowledge that strategic and economic interests of Europe are intrinsically linked to the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Increasing convergence of interests and shared values offer scope for deepening India-EU cooperation in the region to secure global commons, maintain stability and support economic prosperity in a cooperative manner and together shape a stable multipolar order.

Source: TH

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