Today, the EU approved conclusions on an EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, a region spanning from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific island states. According to its official statement the EU wants to “contribute to regional stability, security, prosperity and sustainable development, at a time of rising challenges and tensions in the region.”
“The Council’s conclusions are a step in the right direction. But it does reflect the ambivalence of the member states vis-à-vis China. Every single issue addressed in the text refers at least obliquely to China, but the latter is never mentioned. It is now up to the Commission and the High Representative to clarify this ambivalence and make the EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific a true instrument of cooperation”, Frédéric Grare comments on the new Indo-Pacific strategy.
Recent ECFR’s research lays out three ways in which the EU and its member states can deepen their cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners in the coming years:
- If Europeans wish to maximise the impact of their military resources in the Indo-Pacific, they could set themselves the goal of coordinating closely to ensure that there is always a credible European naval presence in the Indian Ocean.
- Working with states in the Indo-Pacific on vaccine roll out and post-pandemic recovery could strengthen an urgently needed global public health effort and would contribute to European visibility in the region.
- Connectivity projects, including the financing of high-quality infrastructure, is a key element of building partnerships within the framework of the EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy and beyond.
ECFR’s Asia programme will put a strong focus on the Indo-Pacific Policy in the upcoming months. We will follow-up with policy briefs, commentaries, events, and other products which will be available on our website. ECFR’s spokespersons on our Indo-Pacific work are:
Fréderic Grare is a Senior Policy Fellow with the Asia Programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. He previously worked at the Center for Analysis, Planning and Strategy (CAPS) of the French Ministry for Europe and External Affairs (MEAE), Paris, where he focused on Indo-Pacific dynamics and Indian Ocean security issues. Prior to joining the French MEAE, he served as the South Asia programme director.
Manisha Reuter is the Asia Programme Coordinator. She is working on India-EU relations, China-India relations and maritime security in the Indo-Pacific. Upon joining ECFR in August 2020, Reuter worked for the Asia Program of The German Marshall Fund of the United States.
Janka Oertel is director of the Asia programme at the European Council on Foreign Relations. She previously worked as a senior fellow in the Asia programme at the German Marshall Fund of the United States’ Berlin office, where she focused on transatlantic China policy, including on emerging technologies, Chinese foreign policy, and security in east Asia. Oertel has published widely on topics related to EU-China relations, US-China relations, security in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese foreign policy, and 5G.
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The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) is a pan-European think-tank that aims to conduct cutting-edge independent research in pursuit of a coherent, effective, and values-based European foreign policy. For more details, please visit: www.ecfr.eu.
The European Council on Foreign Relations does not take collective positions. All publications of the European Council on Foreign Relations represent only the views of its author.