• 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.

Important points:

  • 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.
  • 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:

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

  • 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.
  • 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.


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.


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