Europe and the Indo-Pacific: Partners facing similar challenges

We envision deeper partnership on sustainable prosperity and the environment, digital connectivity and security.

At our initiative, ministers from the Indo-Pacific and the European Union, along with their partners, will gather in Stockholm on May 13. And our meeting is a call for action, just as much as it is meant to demonstrate the EU’s continuous commitment to the Indo-Pacific.

We meet as the world grapples with aggression, geopolitical tensions, economic turbulence and the climate crisis. In these consequential times, partnerships are essential — and never has the case for cooperation between our regions been so compelling.

The Indo-Pacific region is of strategic importance: It holds the larger part of the earth’s population and economy. The major share of world trade passes through its waters. Stability and freedom of navigation in the region are vital for global prosperity. The fate of climate change and the health of oceans will largely be decided there.

And when fundamental freedoms and openness are threatened — be it in Europe, the Indo-Pacific or elsewhere — the bloc is not indifferent.

We live in a world of shared security. The rise of tensions in parts of Asia has global repercussions and, correspondingly, developments in Europe reverberate  in the Indo-Pacific as well. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is felt through its flagrant breaches of the principles of the U.N. Charter, and through food and energy price hikes. We have a common interest in addressing these challenges and upholding both the U.N. Charter and international law. Indeed, Ukraine’s aims — to protect its freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity — are of fundamental importance for all.

In these challenges we face, there are many notable parallels between Europe and the Indo-Pacific. Supply chains are stretched, inflation is destabilizing, energy insecure, technology competitive, disinformation proliferating and cyber security threatened. In short, the futures of Europe and the Indo-Pacific are inextricably linked, and our interests align.

Together, we are strong enough to make a real difference to free trade and supply chains, technology and climate change, as well as security. We account for over two-thirds of global trade, GDP and population. And through closer relations we can further influence cooperation on key global challenges. 

In the EU’s Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, we pledge growing engagement and invite our partners to join us in addressing shared challenges. We envision deeper partnership on sustainable prosperity and the environment, digital connectivity and security — including human security. Our strategy is, above all, an invitation to our partners in the region for dialogue and to address the issues at stake.

The EU’s proposition is clear: We are ready to act across a broad palette of cooperation, reflecting our extensive and long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific. The latter is exemplified through our free trade agreements and active negotiations with Australia, India, Indonesia and Kenya, relaunched negotiations with Thailand, and we expect to sign an agreement with New Zealand soon too. We also engage in infrastructure, development cooperation and ocean conservation stretching from the African coast, deep into the Pacific.

Importantly, the EU’s approach here constitutes an open and inclusive partnership model for the Indo-Pacific, where we cooperate based on common interests and the protection of shared values and principles. It is a design that allows us to address the challenges we face more effectively. And our goal is to build strategic trust and promote joint leadership in addressing global challenges.

As we welcome participants to the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum in Stockholm, our discussions will focus on our common interests and values, with the goal of supporting closer coordination and integration — a clear message of Europe’s long-term commitment to the region.

Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.