EU, India and the Indo Pacific

Synopsis: India does not figure prominently in the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy. The Chinese challenge might change that.


Recently, the “EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” document has been released. It appears to be over-determined by China’s expansionism. However, there is a need to analyze it in the context of the rapprochement between the EU and India.

Read more: EU unveils Indo-Pacific strategy
What are the important highlights of the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy?

Human Rights: It highlights the importance of values and human rights. The document says the EU will further continue to use sanctions against the bodies, entities etc who will involve in human rights violations and abuses worldwide. It will also lend its support to like-minded countries in Indo Pacific that work for human rights.

Partnership: The document highlights ASEAN as an important partner for the EU. New Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) are also announced with Thailand and Malaysia.

Security cooperation: EU is seeking to play a stronger role in the ASEAN security architecture and participate in the ASEAN ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus(ADMM-Plus) structures and the East Asia Summit (EAS) . ASEAN is also the main partner of the EU from the military point of view.

EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy and India

The document does not give much-required importance to the Indian partnership. However, India appears in the list of the countries which already have an Indo-Pacific strategy and with which the EU is interested in a deeper “engagement”.

India is listed as the EU’s first partner only in one area, which is“Enhancing Security Cooperation in and with Asia (ESIWA)”. It covers counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, maritime security and crisis management. But for most other parts, Europeans put India on par with Pakistan under military cooperation.

Diversification: The document did not mention any role India could play in value-chain diversification, which is a top priority of the EU since the pandemic.

Why EU’s interest is not at par with India?

German Vision: EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy document is mostly in tune with the German vision of Indo-Pacific. Germany puts more emphasis on trade, economy, human rights, and engagement with China. It has less attention over the security aspect which is India and French strong pillars. 

Economic perspective: EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy is mostly driven from an economic perspective, while India’s seeks more partnership at the geostrategic and geopolitical levels. The document has emphasized on implementing and enforcing the comprehensive trade agreements with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, etc but not with India.

Source: This post is based on the article “EU, Indian and the Indo Pacificpublished in Indian Express on 20th October 2021.

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