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EU-India Partnership in the Indo-Pacific

Context:

Europe and its key Indo-Pacific partners are joining forces to deliver a positive agenda for the region at the ministerial Forum to be held in Paris.

Relevance:

GS-II: International Relations (Foreign Policies and development affecting India’s Interests)

Dimensions of the Article:
  1. European Union (EU)
  2. What is the Indo-Pacific Region?
  3. Importance of Indo-Pacific for EU
  4. Reasons of growing relationship between India and EU

European Union (EU)

  • The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 27 member states that are located primarily in Europe.
  • The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardized system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one.
  • EU policies aim to
    • Ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market;
    • Enact legislation in justice and home affairs;
    • Maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.
  • A monetary union was established in 1999, coming into full force in 2002, and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

In January 2020, the United Kingdom became the first member state ever to leave the EU. Note: United Kingdom is not a part of the EU now.

What is the Indo-Pacific Region?

  • The “Indo-Pacific” idea was originally conceived in 2006- 07. The term ‘IndoPacific’ combines the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Western Pacific Region (WP) – inclusive of the contiguous seas off East Asia and Southeast Asia – into a singular regional construct.
  • The idea has gained eminence in recent times due to:
    • Increasing geopolitical connect between the Indian Ocean and the western Pacific in both the geo-economics
    • Eastward shift of the world’s economic “centre of gravity” towards the Asian continent .
    • Growing Eminence of India
    • Politico-military aggressiveness of China.
  • Indo Pacific is an inclusive and representative term that reflects the contemporary interconnectedness of trade, technology and supply chains in a wider region.
  • Moreover, the Indo-Pacific is being redefined, ironically, by China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), debt-trap diplomacy, fictional territorial claims and a divide-and-rule strategy.
  • Indo Pacific is wider than the “Asia-Pacific” which represented the trans-Pacific strategic and economic impulses after World War II, and was confined to East and South-east Asia.

Importance of Indo-Pacific for EU

  • The issues at stake in this crucial region, including security challenges, are of concern to all EU countries.
  • EU unveiled EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific,  in September 2021.
  •  Europe can offer the countries of the region a sustainable, transparent model for preserving their sovereignty, and an alternative to other models, such as China’s.
  • Addressing the connectivity and infrastructure need: There are immense connectivity and infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific.
  • But these needs should not force the countries of the region into unsustainable dependencies.
  • The EU’s Global Gateway initiative unveiled in December 2021 hopes to address this by pooling the resources of the EU’s institutions and its 27 member states to raise 300 billion euros to build sustainable links.
  • India’s role: The EU and India have already concluded a Connectivity Partnership (last May in Porto), which can be a pillar of this wider initiative.
  • The Indo-Pacific is a crucial region for tackling global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity protection and health resilience. 
  • At the Forum, the EU will present the support it can provide to countries of the region, including in terms of green finance, to achieve their ecological transitions in a just manner.
  • The ministers will also discuss concrete steps to strengthen health sovereignty and promote the “One Health” approach to the pandemic response.

Reasons of growing relationship between India and EU

  • Changing Geopolitical developments: As highlighted by EU strategy on India, released in 2018, EU sees EU-India relations in the context of broader geopolitical developments, primarily the rise of China. Impact of China in Europe and Asia (e.g. Belt and Road initiative) has pushed EU to change the nature of its partnerships in the region, particularly with India.
  • Convergence of interests in the Indian Ocean as the Indian Ocean is the main conduit for global trade and energy flows. India, EU see each other as partners in securing the Indian Ocean by strengthening institutions, rule of law, and a regional security architecture.
  • Retreat of the U.S. from global leadership and uncertainty of US policy under Trump has provided opportunities for EU- India cooperation and trilateral dialogues with countries in the Middle Fast, Central Asia and Africa.
  • Strategic rivalry between the US and China: Both EU and India have a common interest in avoiding a bipolarized world and sustaining a rules-based multilateral trading system with the United Nations and the World Trade Organization at its core.
  • Green governance: After the US exit from the Paris climate agreement, India and the EU stand to gain from a joint leadership on global governance matters such as climate change, clean energy or circular economy.
  • New emerging world order after COVID-19: As EU seeks to move away from a global supply chain that is overly dependent on China, India can emerge as its most natural ally.

-Source: The Hindu

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September 2022
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